All cotton at Agricenter has been harvested. Look for more in 2019. Estimated peak time for photography is mid-October. 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.

How does the cotton that is grown around the Mid-South get processed? Agricenter staff toured the Burlison Gin Company run by our board member Brad Williams. It was amazing to see the whole process from the module coming in on a truck to a bale ready for shipment. Watch this video to see how it all works!

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

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