Clayton family begins picking this year’s cotton crop

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 30, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; From the time the sun comes up until after it went down, the Clayton family was picking cotton Sunday.

With the help of some powerful machines, Charles Clayton, along with several family members, picked some of the 280 acres he co-owns in Vidalia.

Two large picking machines lumbered through the fields, each with about 2,000 small spindles that spin the cotton and then separate it from the plant. A vacuum in the machines keeps it moving in the large steel cage that collects the fluffy, white bolls.

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From there, the pickers dump the cotton into a container truck &045; aptly named a &uot;boll buggy&uot; &045; before the cotton is dumped again into a machine that will pack it into tight modules.

Those modules sit on the edge of the fields waiting to be picked up for the cotton gin, where the cotton will be separated from its seeds.

So how is the crop this year?

&uot;We go from good to absolutely awful,&uot; he said with a smile.

The land in Vidalia is actually yielding a pretty good crop this year, he said. But the heavy rain this summer hurt some of the cotton in other fields Clayton owns. Because the ground soaked up so much water, it never quite dried out.

&uot;Some of it got so wet it just never could recover,&uot; Clayton said.

The Vidalia fields will yield about 900 pounds of cotton, said Clayton, who has been growing cotton and soybeans since 1991. He also owns land in other parts of Concordia Parish.

&uot;It’s going to be some good, some bad,&uot; he said of this year’s crop.