Understanding the Different Cotton Harvester Heads

Cotton harvesters are widely used in the irrigated Southern United States to mechanically harvest row cotton. Until now, however, they have not been designed to separate trash from cotton from the commingled mixture exhausted by the harvesting units as the harvester moves across a field.

The present invention realizes such separation. A laterally elongated cleaning means disposed on the head assembly gravitationally receives the commingled mixture and discharges the trash and cotton materials separately.

1. Boll-Sucking Head

A cotton harvester is a farm machine used to remove lint from cotton plants in order to make cotton textiles. It is important that farmers have the right equipment for harvesting cotton, as this can help them achieve their desired results in a timely manner. There are a few different types of cotton harvesters, including pickers and strippers. These machines differ in how they separate lint from the plant and how they remove lint from cotton bolls.

The most common type of cotton harvester is a picker. These machines are used to harvest the open lint from the cotton plant without injuring unopened bolls or the plant’s foliage. Pickers are able to do this by using spindles or fingers that are arranged to grasp and pull lint from the bolls while avoiding tearing or breaking the cotton fibers inside the boll.

Other types of cotton harvesters include thresher and stripper harvesters, which use mechanical or electrostatic means to separate lint from the plant. In addition, they may also use a cutter bar to cut down the plant and separate its stalk from the cotton. Historically, these devices were used by hand, but mechanization was a big step forward in this industry.

A conventional cotton harvester includes a head assembly 16 that is supported on a chassis 12 for general vertical movement. A plurality of harvesting units 20 are laterally positioned on the head assembly in a side-by-side relation for receiving plant materials from rows of cotton plants as the harvester is driven across the field.

Each harvesting unit has a rotatably driven auger that is disposed within an open and laterally extending trough area 40 of the head assembly. Conventional panel structure 42 closes the outboard ends of the trough area. The rotatably driven auger is adapted to convey the harvested plant material through the trough area and toward a dump position adjacent to the front end of the harvester.

Known cleaning systems mounted on the harvester typically include a complex assemblage of parts, including a first air system for upwardly moving the cotton material from the head assembly to the receptacle and a second duct structure for downwardly transferring the cotton material to the cleaner. Having two air systems adds complexity, detracts from the operation speed, and reduces the cleaning process’s overall efficiency.

2. Vacuum-Sucking Head

The first mechanical cotton harvesters were introduced in the 1940s. These machines were able to remove the fibers from the plant faster than people could by hand. They were a major factor in the Great Migration when millions of rural families left the South for jobs in urban areas and industrial plants.

These harvesters included a frame 12 supported by rear steerable wheels 14 and front drive wheels 16 and 20 for forward movement over a field of cotton plants. A harvesting head assembly laterally extends from the frame and is positioned on a longitudinal centerline of the machine for receiving materials from cotton plants. The head assembly supports a plurality of harvesting units in side-by-side relation for receiving a variety of row spacings.

Each harvesting unit includes a housing having a pair of brush-type rollers for stripping plants of their fibers. The stripped materials are advanced toward and exhausted from the rear end of the harvesting unit housing by a rotatably driven cross auger on the head assembly. A duct carried on the chassis of the harvester provides a means for transporting the cotton materials from the harvested units to a receptacle carried on the harvester.

A cleaning system is interposed between the harvesting units and the duct for separating cotton materials from trash materials. The cleaner is fed by gravity rather than air, as in other cleaning systems. A portion of the cleaner of each harvesting unit extends rearwardly to separate trash from the harvested cotton materials. The resulting cleaned materials are fed into the receptacle, and the capacity of the receptacle is significantly increased by eliminating the accumulation of trash material within the receptacle.

The receptacle has a dumping mechanism for discharging the cleaned cotton materials from the receptacle through an opening at the bottom. The dumping mechanism is controlled by a motor which is operated by a control panel located inside the cab of the harvester. This control panel allows the operator to adjust the dumping mechanism based on harvesting conditions, including light vs. heavy harvesting. The dumping mechanism can also be stopped and started as desired by the operator.

3. Hydraulic-Sucking Head

The cotton harvest season is important for farmers as they reap what they sow throughout the year. However, it is also a time when many risks are present, and the weather is one of the biggest threats to harvesting success. For this reason, it is essential that farmers have the proper machinery to ensure a successful crop. Luckily, the cotton harvester is designed to help with this process. In order to successfully harvest cotton, there are several types of heads that can be used with the harvester. Each of these heads has its own unique feature that can be used to make the process more efficient and effective.

Known cleaning systems mounted on the harvester typically include a complex assemblage of parts, including a plurality of duct structures for handling the harvested materials. In addition, they require a first air system comprising a primary fan arranged in combination with the duct structure to facilitate upward movement and direct the harvested materials toward the receptacle. These features add up to a significant amount of complexity and weight on the harvester and detract from its overall operation by requiring an extra fan to operate the ducts.

Another disadvantage of these existing cleaning systems is that they limit the capacity of the harvester by requiring a substantial amount of space to store the trash that is separated from the harvested material. Moreover, they tend to only work efficiently during heavy harvesting conditions and fail to perform well under light harvesting conditions.

This invention provides an improved cleaning head for a cotton harvester having a plurality of row units supported by the harvester frame for moving across a field of cotton plants. The head assembly is configured for harvesting materials directly from the plants by a series of transversely spaced tandem drum row units 21-26 and is connected to the harvester frame by right left-hand (as viewed in the direction of travel) row unit support assemblies 32 and 34.

The cleaning head includes a telescoping basket structure 70 having a lower portion 72 which defines the dump position of the basket when telescoped into a higher portion 74. The lower portion of the basket is disposed above the third drive wheel 20 and has a pivot axis 78 extending inwardly of the outermost side of the third wheel to provide good stability during dumping operations.

4. Suction-Sucking Head

Cotton harvesting is an important time of year for farmers, and having the right equipment to make the process as fast and efficient as possible is critical. Aside from the obvious benefits that mechanization brings to the industry, it also allows for more precision and less damage to the crop. With all that being said, it is crucial to understand the different kinds of cotton harvester heads available to ensure that the machinery you purchase has everything you need for a successful harvest.

A conventional mechanical cotton harvester includes a main frame or chassis 12 supported by rear steerable wheels 14 and front drive wheels 16, 18, and 20 for forward movement across a field of cotton plants. A head assembly laterally extends from the chassis for harvesting materials, including a commingled mixture of trash and cotton from plants as the machine is driven over the field. The head assembly comprises a plurality of harvesting units that exhaust harvested material toward a receptacle mounted on the head assembly. The harvesting unit receptacles are generally arranged with the head assembly in parallel rows.

The receptacles typically include a plurality of trays or baskets for collecting the commingled mixture of trash and cotton. The trays can be lifted or folded up to expose the commingled mixture of trash to an air system for separation of the trash from the cotton. Known cleaning systems mounted on the harvester are complex assemblages that require a substantial amount of space and often involve air systems to advance harvested material from the receptacles to the cleaning assemblies.

The present invention relates to a cotton harvester that incorporates a cleaner assembly on the head assembly for gravitationally receiving and processing the harvested materials directly received from each harvesting unit before the auger passes the material to the inlet area of the duct. Compared to prior art, the elongated cleaning means of the present invention provides for a distribution of harvested materials about the periphery of the cleaning assemblies and for facilitating easier servicing requirements for the cleaner assemblies.