Estimated peak time for photography is Oct 19-22. Do not pick the cotton please, we must leave it as-is for others to enjoy, plus the funds from harvest go to our education program.

What do we do with all that cotton on our campus? Watch this video to find out!

Map showing the only location that is available for public photography at Agricenter. Turn at the light on Walnut Bend for parking.

Map showing the only location that is available for public photography at Agricenter. Turn at the light on Walnut Bend for parking.

Photographers & community members: This year we planted cotton in a place where you can easily take pictures. This will be available off of Germantown Parkway (next to where the sunflowers were). Expected peak time is mid-October.

As with all plant materials on our farm, it cannot be picked.

Life Cycle of the Cotton Plant

The cotton plant will bloom about 8 to 10 weeks after the seed is planted.  These blooms start out as yellow or white and once pollinated turn pink and falls off.  At the base of the flower bud is the cotton boll and inside that are about 32 cotton seeds with fiber. 

The fiber is the white fluffy cotton that we are all familiar with.  As the boll grows, the fibers get longer and thicker and eventually the boll opens up at the 18 to 20 week mark and you can see the white cotton.  After this, the crop is defoliated and 10 days later the leaves die leaving only the stalk with the white cotton fiber.  This is when it is best for photography as well as harvesting. 

Life Cycle Graphic courtesy: http://cotton-source.com

Life Cycle Graphic courtesy: http://cotton-source.com

Weather plays a huge part in when harvest happens as a severe rain can completely ruin the quality of the fiber.  Here at Agricenter we harvest as fast as possible using spindle pickers which pull the cotton fiber from the plant using barbed spindles. You can see what these spindles look like in the video on this webpage.  The non-research cotton grown at Agricenter is taken to a gin where it is dried and cleaned and the seed is removed from the fiber.  It is classed based on fiber length, color, and other factors then baled and sold to make items like apparel, towels, and even dollar bills. The cotton seed is also sold and used for livestock feed or human food products such as salad oil.

Sources: 

http://www.cottonmill.com/blog/the-life-cycle-of-the-cotton-plant/

http://www.cotton.org/pubs/cottoncounts/fieldtofabric/index.cfm