Andrew Burleson farms in Richfield, N.C., and last year operated both a John Deere and Case IH cotton picker with onboard module building (OMB) capability and he says both did a good job on his family farming operation.

Burleson gave a farmer evaluation of the two cotton picking systems at the recent Southern Cotton Growers and Southeast Cotton Ginners annual meeting in Savannah, Ga.

Burleson farms with his father, uncle and cousin, with most of the 3,200 acre farming operation in cotton. Their farm near Richfield, N.C., is only 30 miles or so east of Charlotte and not in the heart of the state’s cotton acreage.

Their farm stretches more than 35 miles north to south and 10 miles east to west. All their land is classified highly erodible, so all their crops are in no-till. They spend a lot of time on the road between farms and the lack of available labor and high cost of labor encouraged them to take a look at the new onboard module building cotton pickers.

In 2008, they bought a Case IH module building picker and ran it that year and in 2009. “We loved the machine and the concept. We could pick the cotton, tarp the cotton, label the cotton, mow the stalks and we were done. That really made us aware of how much time we really spent on the road and getting ready to pick cotton,” Burleson says.

The original Case IH machine had manual chutes that required an operator to fold them down manually and that took 15 minutes or so to get them back up and off to the next field. That was a big deal for us, Burleson says. The newer Case IH machine has hydraulic chutes, which greatly improves the timing and efficiency of getting from field to field.

In 2010, they bought a John Deere picker with on-board module building capability. With this machine they could pick 20 acres, fold it down, go a mile down the road and pick more and so on without much stopping, he adds.

The John Deere machine cost more and Burleson says he doesn’t like the idea of writing a check for plastic, which is required for the Deere picker.

(For a cost comparison of the OMB pickers from other growers see http://southeastfarmpress.com/equipment/growers-compare-costs-conventional-obmb-pickers. For still other opinions see http://southeastfarmpress.com/growers-compare-red-green-pickers).

The Deere picker is extremely long in transport, but turns in a short radius, sharper than the Case IH picker. “I can pick more cotton in a day with the Deere machine than my cousin can pick with the Case IH picker,” he says.