Seed Cotton Handling Storage
Forming Covering Conventional Modules
Maximum seed cotton protection during storage is related to module site selection, along with construction and covering the module to prevent water penetration. The module building sites should be on well drained areas such as turn rows or field roads (Figure 9).
Under wet conditions, low areas will collect water and saturate the bottom layer of the module, causing deterioration of seed cotton. The site should be smooth and firm, free of rocks, clods, and vegetation such as cotton stalks and grass. Do not build modules on stalks or tall vegetation, as they will be picked up with the module in the loading process. Ginning may not remove all foreign matter, resulting in contaminated lint and reduced lint grades. The site should be easily accessible by the harvester or boll buggy and clear of overhead obstructions such as utility lines or trees. If possible, the site should be accessible to module trucks during wet weather. If possible, modules should be built in an area away from heavily traveled roads, thus away from possible sources of fire and vandalism.
The previous discussion has shown that properly built modules, along with good module covers, will maintain seed cotton quality prior to ginning. Uniform packing of the module during building is important in a properly made module. This requires coordination of the module operator and the operator of the boll buggy or harvester. Cotton should be dumped uniformly in even layers of the module builder to minimize the amount of leveling by the tramper (Figure 10a and Figure 10b). Harvester and module builders equipped with metering systems can spread cotton the length of the builder, resulting in faster unloading with less spillage. Leveling and tramping should begin immediately after initial dumps into the module builder and continue until the module is completed. After leveling, tramping is started by lowering the tramper until full weight of the builder is on the cotton. The tramper is raised and then moved laterally 14 to 16 inches and compression of the seed cotton is repeated (Figure 10c).
Packing should be continuous until the module is finished. Ends of the module should be packed two to three times more than the center to prevent the ends from sloughing off when the builder is removed. The tighter the module is compacted, the better it sheds rainfall on the sides and the less seed cotton is lost during storage, loading and hauling. Low-moisture cotton will require more tramping or compressing as the cotton is more “springy” and will not hold the compressed form like higher moisture cotton.
To remove the completed module from the builder, the rear door is opened fully, and the builder raised on the transport wheels (Figure 11). Take caution when opening the rear door, as the operator will not be able to see the area behind the door. Make sure any support workers in the area are in view before opening the door. Because of the tapered form of the module, when the builder is raised, the tractor can easily pull the builder forward without damaging the module. The tractor must be driven straight forward. Attempting to turn the tractor while the builder is over any portion of the module likely will result in damage to the module and/ or builder. The completed module should be shaped like a loaf of bread, the top rounded from side to side and ends of the module lower than the center of the module (Figure 12a). Depressions in the module surface will cause water to collect, likely resulting in wet cotton (Figure 12b).
Rejecting Worn or Damaged Covers
When picking up previously used covers from the gin or other supplier, the crew should have authority to reject covers that appear worn or damaged. Since damage may not be apparent when covers are rolled for storage, rejection of poor condition covers should also be authorized in the field. After unrolling a cover, if it appears to be in bad shape, it should be set aside and another cover used. These practices by the covering crew should be discussed with your gin manager or supplier.
Module Covering Methods
Covering modules can be a difficult task, especially when the wind is blowing. Crews use various methods. Some will unroll the cover on top of the module while the module is still in the builder, others will attach the cover to the rear door of the builder so that the cover is dragged over the module as the builder is moved off, and others will use a ladder to climb on top of a free-standing module to spread the cover. A preferred method is to use the module builder door to pull the cover over the module while moving the builder off the module (Figure 13). This method avoids the need for a worker to be on top of the module, but requires covering the module immediately at the time of building. A covering crew that works independent of the module forming will have to use ladders to place the cover on the top of the larger modules.
Whichever method is used, avoid walking on the cover after it is spread on top of a module. Walking on the cover after installation can cause puddles and water penetration even if the cover is in excellent condition. The cover should be pulled as low as possible on the module on both ends. Lower attachment points will help to avoid standing water on the surface and make the cover less susceptible to wind damage or removal. When tightening the cover onto the module, do not tie hard knots in the belt or rope. If using tie-downs on the side of the cover, use module twine, not plastic or baler twine.
Safety Issues for Cover Crews
- Avoid walking on top of modules. There is a high potential for falls. A better method of applying a cover is to pull the cover on when moving the builder off the module. Attach the cover to the rear door of the module builder prior to opening with spring-loaded clips. The clips allow separation of the module cover from the door after it is pulled on completely, avoiding rips.
- During windy conditions, extra personnel may be required to prevent the cover from being blown off while the cover is being installed. Covers should not be installed in winds greater than 20 mph.