COTTON PICKING TIME September 28, 2015 14:06 1 Comment

Cotton picking season is here. To many older people from the Deep South, this brings back happy memories of childhood, working on the family farm to help out during the harvesting season, working alongside one another and singing songs, mostly spiritual. With a large sack strapped over the shoulder, they would begin early in the day, stopping only for a hearty lunch mid-day. Today we would call this child-labor but back then, it was expected of children to help work the fields and many will say it instilled in them a hard work ethic and self-sufficiency, perseverance, and pride.
For many people, however, “cotton-pickin’ season” stirs up less pleasant memories. It was back-breaking work in extreme temperatures, mostly heat of late summer. But if the cotton wasn’t all picked in early fall due to too many rainy days, the job could continue till frost or even ice was present in December. The hands of a picker would stay sore all season from sticking his fingers with the sharp tips on the cotton burr. The pay was by the pound of cotton picked and it was poor…
Today, cotton is machine harvested in the U.S., by stripper harvesters that have rollers or mechanical brushes that remove the entire boll from the plant or by spindle pickers that pull the cotton from the open bolls using revolving barbed spindles that entwine the fiber and release it after it has separated from the boll. Once harvested, seed cotton is removed from the harvester and stored before it is delivered to the gin where it is removed from the harvester and readied for processing…

So here it is, September again, where here in the South we may pass cotton fields on our way to work and we are reminded of the inconceivably hard work that was once performed by our parents or our grandparents – maybe even ourselves. Perhaps that is why the cotton boll invokes such heart-rendering appreciation not only to us southerners but to all who appreciate the simple beauty of the cotton boll.










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