Southern farmers have been as eager for a machine to harvest cotton as their northern counterparts were for implements to speed the production of wheat. These inventions came from Pennsylvania and Virginia respectively, both major grain states in that period. No similar technological breakthrough enabled the South to expand the cotton frontier without large amounts of Negro slavery. If the South had had a cotton harvester would slavery gradually have disappeared; could the Civil War have been avoided? Southerners did design and patent implements for planting and cultivating cotton.
We're getting closer to cotton harvest. Soon, cotton strippers will be a consistent part of our landscape as area farmers work to bring in this year's crop. It's an essential component of West Texas's history and legacy. As we get closer to this year's harvest, we thought it would be interesting to take a look back and see the history of the cotton stripper. Here is a little of what we learned.
If you live or travel the southern half of the state, you probably saw cotton harvest happening over the summer. How does a farmer know the cotton is ready for harvest? The bolls will burst open, exposing the fluffy white fiber inside. This occurs around July in South Texas, while the central and northern parts of the state usually start harvest in September through early November. Farmers must balance optimal growth and boll production with weather threats, such as rain or snow, which can degrade the fiber quality or reduce yields.
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