The John Deere 7760 forms round modules, using a mechanism similar to that of a round hay baler. The operation of the module forming mechanism is highly automated, requiring minimal operator interaction. The round modules are covered with an engineered polyethylene film that both protects the seed cotton and provides compressive force to maintain the module density. The module-forming control system handles the wrapping of the modules; and, when wrapping is completed, the module is ejected onto the carrier at the rear of the machine, as shown in Figure 16. The primary action of the operator regarding the modules is to decide when to drop the module being carried. Typically, the finished module is carried until it can be dropped on a turn-row. If the yield is very high, or the row lengths are long, it may be necessary to drop the modules in the middle of the field. This action has no impact on the operation of the picker, but stalks may puncture or tear the plastic wrap.
Because of the round shape of the modules, there is a concern about dropping the modules on sloping ground. When the carrier is lowered for unloading, the modules do roll onto the ground. Typically, there is enough flexing of the module shape that the rolling stops very quickly. However, there is a potential for continued rolling if the module were dropped when the picker is headed up a steep slope. In rolling terrain, the operator should drop the modules only when the picker is oriented across the slope to prevent excessive rolling.
The round modules can be transported to the gin in conventional module trucks or on semi-trailers. The modules must be picked up where they were dropped in the field, and staged together for pickup, four for a module truck and six for a semi-trailer. The staging can be done using several different implements. The most common system is to use a set of forks with hydraulically controlled spacing mounted on the three-point hitch of a tractor (Figure 17). Other devices include a mast-type mounted implement that holds the module with the axis parallel to the tractor rear axle or a set of forks on a front-end loader. Because the round modules can weigh over 6,000 lbs., a large tractor is required for staging. The following practices are recommended when unloading and preparing modules for transport:
The plastic wrap typically performs well in preventing moisture from entering the seed cotton. The open ends of the modules will shed rainwater, provided the ends are not touching. Modules too close together will hold water between the ends, resulting in wet cotton with the usual potential for reduced-quality grades. When intact, the wrap will shed water on the circumference of the module.
Punctures and tears in the wrap can occur and will allow degradation of the seed cotton if not repaired. Tears can be covered with a water-resistant tape, such as lint bale repair tape. A common problem is that the adhesive at the end of the wrap gives way after weathering, resulting in loose ends. John Deere recommends reattaching the loose end with 3M 90 spray adhesive or lint bale repair tape. Wrap damage should be repaired before transport, as the loading/unloading actions can make damage more serious. The inside walls of the module truck must be free of burrs or edges that could catch and tear the wrap during loading.