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Every year, Deltapine® introduces new cotton varieties in an effort to enhance not only cotton yield potential, but also fiber quality. Examples fiber quality improvements of recent Deltapine varieties for the Southeast region are provided in table 1.
Once cotton is harvested, it is stored in either round bale modules or the traditional modules made in rectangular module builders placed on the edge of fields until transported to a ginning facility. To maintain fiber quality during storage, cotton must be properly defoliated prior to harvest. Vegetative material or green trash left in the cotton module can result in excess moisture content, high trash count, and stained cotton lint.
The timing of harvest aid applications and harvest can affect cotton quality. Delaying harvest aid applications can increase the potential for poor late-season weather, which may affect cotton quality.
To help protect cotton during storage, rectangular modules should be covered with a high-quality tarp. Tarps should be checked for any tears or pin holes before use. Round modules are wrapped with plastic that covers the circumference of the bale and a few inches on the ends. Any excess moisture in the cotton can cause condensation, so modules should be monitored. When elevated moisture levels occur, temperatures increase within the module compromising lint grade and seed viability. Extreme cases can result in spontaneous combustion. Cotton module or bale temperature should be monitored for the first 5 to 7 days. Ideally, cotton harvested at correct moisture levels should only increase 10° to 15° F in the first 5 to 7 days of module storage, then level off or decrease in temperature. A 15° to 20° F temperature increase during the first 5 to 7 days indicates a high moisture problem and the module should be ginned as soon as possible.2 After the initial daily temperature check, modules should continue to be checked every 3 to 4 days. If a module reaches a temperature of 120° F at any time during storage, the cotton should be ginned immediately.
A study was conducted in 2009 to determine if the three different cotton module types, traditional large modules, half-sized modules, and round modules cause any problems in ginning or fiber quality.3 Data was collected at seven gins located in four states in the Cotton Belt region. While cotton degradation was observed when cotton modules were placed too close together than recommended by the manufacturer, the ginning and fiber quality observations between the three module types were too small to conclude that any of the differences were based on the module type and not other factors.