With the advent of the on-board module builders on cotton pickers, growers now have an option for how to package their seed cotton for storage and transport. However, the need to protect the cotton through good practices remains the same. Some of these practices are the responsibility of the grower or his harvest crew, and some should be performed by the ginner. The following sections describe the unique factors for each module type.
The conventional practice in the U.S. is to form modules at the edge of the field using a module builder that creates 32-foot-long modules with a trapezoidal cross-section. Similar builders are used internationally where cotton is mechanically harvested, but the dimensions of the forming chamber may vary by country. After forming, the modules must be protected from the weather. Protective covers for the conventional module are available in a range of styles, materials and prices. Design differences include the material used in the top surface, skirt design (shape, depth and material), the presence of tie-down loops on the side skirts, and type of closure (rope, belt, etc.).
The modules formed by the Case IH Module Express cotton picker are 16 feet long, rectangular and trapezoidal in cross-section. Those modules are protected with a cover similar to conventional modules but shorter in length. The number of manufacturers selling covers designed for these half-length modules initially has been limited; but with an increase in the number of Module Express cotton pickers used, the options of manufacturers and models are expected to increase as well.
The John Deere 7760 cotton picker forms round modules that are fully enclosed on the circumference by a specially engineered polyethylene film that protects the cotton while also providing a compressive force to maintain the module density. John Deere sells the cover materials; and, at the time of this writing, no third-party options are available. The film materials are sized to lap up a couple of inches on the ends of the round module so that water flowing on the ground surface cannot enter the seed cotton. Figure 5 shows round modules with the plastic film wrapped onto the end.