October is cotton picking time in eastern North Carolina
Some things change, but fall is still harvest time on the farm. I woke up today and the big tractor was outside my window picking cotton.
We have words for all the farm jobs — we pick cotton, we dig peanuts and later we pick the peanuts, we pick soy beans and we prime or crop tobacco. We never pick tobacco. If you use any other expression, we know you aren’t from around here. So today– they were picking cotton.
In fall, a cover crop of wheat or rye is planted. It grows about knee high and is a gorgeous green color all winter. In spring, it isn’t harvested; the cotton seeds are just planted right in the middle of the cover crop. The wheat-rye dies away and the cotton seeds emerge. This is called “no till” farming.
The cotton plants will grow up over the wheat and they never have to plow the field. Miraculously the wheat just disappears and becomes compost.
Harvesting cotton has changed so much over the years. Just a few years back this big machine came on the farm and picked the cotton.
Just as soon as they picked it, they dumped the cotton from the picker into the hopper and then yet another machine rolled the cotton into big round bales.
This big bale of cotton weighs about 500 pounds and we got 2 1/2 bales per acre this year. On the farm, we got 200 bales, and each bale will bring around $375. Price is down from last year but yield is up. Next stop – the cotton gin.
Now one machine does it all.
My Bed and Breakfast guests just love watching all phases of growing cotton. Many of them pose for me to take their pictures in the field.
Cotton is a gorgeous plant and I use the empty bolls for decorating, and always in my cork wreaths. I also go to the Cotton Gin here in Everettes and they give me cotton mulch for free.
I bet this is the most photographed cotton field in eastern North Carolina! Of course, I think our cotton is way prettier and better than all the cotton in Martin County.
If you want to see this happening, plan a trip to Big Mill Bed and Breakfast in September or October.