The John Deere picker is heavier than the Case IH machine, but their farm is all no-till, so that’s not a big concern. The Deere picker costs more than the Case IH picker, but Burleson says it is more efficient in picking cotton.

“With the old pickers we had there was always some waste — we tried to put it back in the module, but still there was waste. With the Case IH on-board module builder most of that waste is eliminated. With the Deere picker, the waste is eliminated, there is virtually no waste with the green picker,” Burleson says.

“For our farm, the Case IH picker is under-powered. We put a chip in it in 2010 to help, but it still struggles climbing hills and on the down-slope packed with cotton. The Deere machine has plenty of power,” he adds.

“Which machine is right for you? “I can’t answer that question,” Burleson says.

“If you have vegetables, fruit and other crops that require labor and it’s available, the new onboard module builders may not be for you,” he adds.

“When we got the IH picker, my cousin was picked to run it. When we got the new Deere picker, I was by default the designated operator. It had a new display and we had to make some changes, and my cousin just didn’t want to learn to run it.

“One weekend during cotton picking I had to be gone on a Saturday, and we didn’t want to let the picker just sit idle. I gave my cousin literally a two minute training session and left him with it.

He picked more than 60 acres, and I only got one phone call. So, both of these machines are easy to operate,” Burleson says.

They use an 8120 John Deere tractor to move the round bales around. They added some weight to the front end of the tractor and had no problems with getting any trash in the cotton, he adds.

“Both of these machines will pick more cotton with less labor than conventional pickers,” Burleson says. Most growers contend it takes about 2,000 acres of cotton to justify an OMB picker, but that’s also relative to labor costs.

Given a choice, he adds, he would never go back to basket pickers. “The OMB pickers, with our labor and topography of our land and how it’s spread out, are the way to go,” he concludes.

Wes Morgan operates Rolling Hill Cotton Gin in New London, N.C. Last year he ginned cotton from both the Case IH and John Deere OMB cotton pickers.

“With the Case IH bales, we didn’t have to make any major changes to the trucks we used to pick up the bales. We did add cameras to the trucks. We had cameras already on some of our trucks and we figured out quickly we needed the cameras for multiple pickups with the Case IH bales,” Morgan says.

“Multiple pickups in a field took some time. Loading the modules onto a truck without pushing one off the back of the truck took some skill and overall, picking up the Case IH modules took more time than we thought.