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High Cotton in Eastern North Carolina

High Cotton in the antebellum South meant that the cotton was high,
prices were good and all was well on the plantation.

Cotton boll growing at Big Mill farmstead

Yep, we’re in High Cotton on the farm here at Big Mill Bed and Breakfast this year. Right outside my kitchen window the cotton is as high as I can remember. My brother John does say that isn’t necessarily a grand thing, but I like it. And this is the best looking cotton in the county.

Cotton fields on the bed and breakfast farm at Big Mill in eastern NC

Just last winter, my kitchen view was a gorgeous field of winter wheat. This spring they planted the cotton seeds right into the wheat field, leaving the tall wheat standing. It is called “no till.” Growing cotton from seed to harvested cotton takes about 25 weeks.

Cotton plants lo-till planted in the wheat

Then as the summer came, the cotton crowded out the wheat and voila, a cotton plant emerged.

In summer, cotton has gorgeous pink blossoms that turn to white. Then it turns to a green ball and that pops open to become a cotton boll. It is magic.

High cotton in the South, in the fields next to Big Mill, a farm Bed and Breakfast near Greenville, NC

In October the leaves fall off the plant – don’t ask me why. All I know for sure is that I don’t go outside on that day or hang my clothes on the clothesline.

Then the huge machines come into the field and pick the cotton.

Cotton picker harvesting cotton in fields at Big Mill Inn, near Greenville, NC

Making cotton bales in eastern North Carolina, near Big Mill Bed and Breakfast

They don’t dare run over me while I am taking my photos – benefits of being the “farmer’s daughter.”

This harvested cotton is compacted into really large bales that are wrapped in colorful plastic; these bales will sit in the fields until there is room at the gin. Our cotton has “room at the inn” until it has “room at the gin.” Oh, how corny.

ThOne day these bales disappear and off they go to the cotton gin in Everetts. The by-product of this is dumped near the gin and locals can go and gather this composted cotton detritus for mulch.

This post was written a few years back. Now they have an even fancier Cotton Picking machine that makes the round bales all in one machine – it picks and rolls the huge round bales.

Chloe Tuttle Big Mill Bed and Breakfast near Greenville NCBig Mill Bed & Breakfast 252-792-8787

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