U.S. cotton producers would love to pick more cotton per hour, per day and per harvest season. At a product launch at Agricenter International in Memphis, Case IH brought out a calculator to prove that its first six-row assembly-line cotton picker can do all that and more.

The calculation program, which is available on a CD and on the Internet at www.caseih.com, showed a number of examples where the six-row CPX610 could provide substantial profit increases through an increase in picking savings and capacity savings.

Additional income

Picking savings in the examples refer to additional incremental dollars earned by harvesting more cotton out of the field. Case says its field testing has shown a 1 percent to 3 percent-harvested cotton yield advantage when picking from both sides of the row versus picking from one side, the latter a reference to a competing company's in-line picking drums.

For example, on a 1,500-acre operation with a two-bale yield, a 1 percent increase in picking efficiency would provide 30 additional bales of cotton which would sell for $7,200 at 50 cents per pound.

Capacity savings refer to the increased basket capacity which allows farmers to complete their harvest in fewer days by spending less time unloading. For example, on the same 1,500-acre operation, harvest would conclude 1.145 days earlier versus a competing six-row machine, saving $302 in labor and $1,431 in estimated depreciation.

That would provide a total cost savings of $8,933. Maximum cost savings at a three percent increase in picking efficiency could provide a total potential savings on the 1,500-acre farm of $23,333, according to Case's calculations.

Long-term project

Design of the six-row picker began in 1994. According to Kevin Richman, with the Case cotton harvesting team, “The first thing we had to do was match the basket capacity with the extra drum. The actual size of the basket was increased from 1,150 to 1,400 cubic feet.”

That change occurred in 1996. But Richman stresses that increasing the basket size alone, “wasn't the answer. It's the way you pack in there. We do a better job with our packer/auger combination. And that's why we can take a machine that has virtually the same cubic footage as our competitor and put another 2,000 pounds in there.”

The packing mechanism is automatic and can tell the operator when the basket has reached capacity, noted Richman. “The operator turns it on and when the compaction level reaches a certain level, it starts packing it down.”

Richman says the CPX610's best feature may be changes in the chassis. “A longer wheelbase makes it really ride nicely.”

Another feature is a specially designed bent frame which allows for a tighter turning radius.

A rotary air screen, “eliminates a lot of time spent cleaning engine screens and blowing out radiators,” Richman said. “It's a huge improvement.”

With a basket capacity of 10,500 pounds, fuel tank capacity of 200 gallons and water tank capacity of 365 gallons, the operator can spend more time picking cotton and make fewer stops for unloading, Case says. “So producers can run these 14-hour days. That's what they're asking for,” Richman said.

An auto-lubrication system is an option on all new Case cotton pickers. “That really eliminates a lot of the daily servicing,” Richman said.

The system supplies fresh lubrication every hour during picker operation, avoiding the potential problem of applying too much grease on moving parts at the beginning of a lubrication cycle, and not having enough grease at the end of a cycle.

“What cotton producers are looking for is a machine to start up when the cotton's ready and not have to do any servicing until after the season is over,” Richman explained.

Other features

The CPX610 offers a 340-hp engine, full-time all-wheel drive and fully synchronized picking up to four miles per hour. An automatic height-sensing system, located at the front of the plant lifter, allows the plant lifters to better follow the ground contour and avoid “plowing” soil with the drums.

The CPX610 will pick 36- to 40-inch row spacings. The model does not include an option for a cotton yield monitor which Case IH and the University of Tennessee helped to develop.

e-mail: erobinson@iprimemediabusiness.com