New Picker Economic Data Coming

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This is the second of what was to have been a two-part series on the new on-board, module-building cotton pickers from Case IH and John Deere. Two parts have now turned into three. Ah, the best laid plans …

In our January issue, we looked at the evolution of the mechanical picker from the concept that was just a glimmer in someone’s eye in 1850, to the first commercially available model that ran on the Hopson Plantation near Clarksdale, MS, in 1943, and on to the new engineering marvels from Case IH and John Deere.

This month, the emphasis was to have been on the economics of the new pickers, but third-party economic data, most notably from Cotton Incorporated, will not be available until June or July.

“We will have a science-based, unbiased evaluation of all the systems for cotton harvest,” said Dr. Ed Barnes, Director, Agricultural Research at Cotton Incorporated, who moderated the Beltwide Cotton Conference session on the new pickers. “The results will not come out until the summer of 2008. This is something that is very important. … We want to make sure the companies have time to review the information, and that will be available to them in April.

“We want to do a complete systems evaluation,” Barnes continued. “We are not just looking at the new systems – we are going to have to make sure we have good baseline data from strippers and conventional pickers. We want you to have something to compare. Do you want to go ahead and adopt this new technology, or are you better where you are? We want you to be able to answer that.”

So in this issue, we present coverage of the Beltwide session on the new pickers, with a third installment scheduled to follow on economics as they become available.

The Case IH Module Express 625 made its public debut in the fall of 2006 in harvest demonstrations, and was commercially available in 2007. The John Deere 7760 began public field demonstrations in 2007, and its commercial launch is uncertain.

Brand Loyalty

It’s apparent that the differences in the Case IH Module Express 625 and the John Deere 7760 are poles apart. Those who have used the Case model sing its praises, long and loud. Those with experience with the Deere version sing just as long, and just as loud – it’s just a different verse.

In 2007, the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers celebrated its 100th anniversary. At the celebration of a century in existence, conventional cotton pickers were in the top 10 most impactful innovations of the past century. That would be in the top 10 over all crops, all equipment, all technologies …

“The new cotton pickers have taken that a step forward,” said Barnes. “They are hugely important to the cotton industry in keeping us viable and sustainable. In the evaluation that is going on, grower participation is very important. We will need more help from them in 2008.”

What will become apparent from the following testimonials is that brand loyalty is a wonderful thing. Unshakable brand loyalty is the ultimate.

Alan Byrd
Tunica, MS
On the John Deere 7760

“We ran the 7760 over 1,200 acres, and we picked around 800 round modules. That would be somewhere between one-third and 40% of our crop,” said Alan Byrd.

John Deere 7760 Picker
Retail Release Delayed

The John Deere 7760 picker made its public field debut in the fall of 2007, with commercial launch scheduled for 2008. However, Deere has elected to delay retail release for the time being.
“There was going to be very limited availability in 2008 anyway. There was limited production,” said Dave Winter, Deere’s Manager, Cotton Product Engineering. “The bottom line is the machines that we ran this year, while we were very pleased with how we got the crop in, did not demonstrate the reliability that we set for ourselves. We’re going back, spending some time on them, and getting them right.
“We set the bar very high with our (John Deere) 9996, and that’s what our customers expect.”
Winter was asked about the possibility of bringing an on-board, module-building cotton stripper to market and he said, “That would all depend on the demand.”

The rest was picked with two Deere 9996 6-row conventional pickers. “On one side of the road you could see the module-building picker running,” he said. “Then when you looked at the other side, you could see the two 9996s, three module builders, two cotton carts, and all of the people it took (to man them). It took one man with the 7760. He was picking from one end of the field to the other, and then dropping modules when he turned.

“I said to myself, ‘This is it. This is what we’ve been waiting on,’” said Byrd. “It’s very impressive.”

Byrd added that the better the yield, the more efficient the 7760 becomes. “The other pickers were having to stop and dump,” he explained. “With the 7760, you never stop. And out of the 800 modules we picked, we had to only drop two in the field.

The Deere 7760’s round modules average 8-feet wide, by 7-1/2 feet in diameter, and weigh between 4,500 and 5,000 pounds each. Because they are plastic wrapped during the picking process, they do not require tarps.

Bill Walker
Somerville, TN
On the Case IH Module
Express 625

Bill Walker tells a story of a Sunday afternoon last fall when he found himself in the unusual situation of having some time on his hands. He and his brothers had 2,500 acres of cotton in ‘07.

“We had picked on Saturday and were going to take Sunday off,” he said. “Well, that afternoon I didn’t really have much to do, so I decided I’d go pick cotton. I just went out to the Case 625, cranked it up and started picking. I didn’t have to call anybody to run the module builder. I didn’t have to find anybody to haul the boll buggy. I just went out and picked cotton.

“Later on,” Walker added, “one of my brothers came along and tarped the modules.”

The Module Express 625 builds modules that are the same height and width of a conventional module, but half as long. “My brother was able to tarp them down by himself,” Walker said.

“We have been running red pickers since 2006, and we’ve had good luck with them,” Walker said. “At the end of the ’06 crop – it was a pain to get out – we knew we had a big decision to make on whether or not to go to the 625.”

The brothers decided to take the plunge. “We looked at three things – labor cost, savings on equipment, and just the headache of having to keep all of that running,” Walker said. “We don’t have to maintain other equipment – tractors, module builders, boll buggies.”

Captions:

The John Deere 7760

The Case IH Module Express 625

The John Deere 7760 builds 8’x7.5’ plastic-wrapped modules, weighing 4,500-5,000 pounds each.

Is an on-board, module-building stripper in Deere’s future?

The Module Express 625 builds 8’x8’16’ modules, half has long as traditional modules.

Gantz is the editor of Cotton Grower magazine. Over the years, he has won many National Agricultural Marketing Association awards, including two national NAMAs – one in advertising and one in public relations. Gantz brings hands-on experience, having worked as Sales Manager for an agricultural supply distributor in the Mississippi Delta.

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