Texas Cotton Farming and Harvest

Delta County Cotton Farming

This weekend we celebrate Cotton Harvest with a festival in the town square.  I’m excited because I’ve never attended; in honor of all their hard work I thought it would be fun to share the behind scenes of farming and harvesting cotton.

We’re in Delta County and this time of year farmers are busy harvesting their crops.  Our land is located near many of these fields and it’s inspiring to witness the activity.  I’m no cotton expert but I’ve learned a few things you may find interesting.

The key ingredient for growing cotton is black soil, it contains rocks or sediment consisting of or containing clay.  This soil is a fine grain and it’s very high in nutrients.

  • High proportions of calcium and magnesium.
  • Contains an abundant of iron
  • Pretty high quantities of lime, magnesia and alumina

Cotton Fields in North Texas

Blackland Prairies

Our area is referred to as Blackland Prairies bordering north of Red River and stretching far south towards San Antonio.  Texas has a total of 9 cotton regions and they can be found here. 

Years ago, I remember driving through the panhandle seeing hundreds if not thousands of cotton farms.  I had to pull off the side of the road because all that white was giving me a headache.  Now when I see cotton fields I’m energized and thankful…

The opportunity to witness the process is a reminder that somebody farmed every piece of cotton I’ve ever come in contact with.  It’s easy to forget the clothing we wear, the towels we dry off with, and the blankets that help us stay warm have a key ingredient in common, cotton…

Harvesting Cotton with the Big Rigs

Working at Capacity

The Farmer’s around here are always working at a capacity most folks could never compete with. I have such respect for their work ethic, dedication and commitment as they travel from one field to another.

During the latter part of September most of the fields near our property were harvested.  It was quite the event and when they brought in the night lights Robert mentioned, the job isn’t done until all that cotton is picked at once.

John Deer Cotton pickers were brought in and the cotton is processed into very large rolls, similar to hay rolls.

Harvesting Cotton from Farm Fields

After the Field is Harvested

After the field is harvested a tractor comes behind the cotton picker and cleans up what’s left behind, basically cuts and tills the  entire field.  These trackers also move the rolls towards the edge of the field; the process is repeated until finished.

There is no, “I’ll take care of it tomorrow” it’s now or never….

These fields inspire purpose, they’re either getting ready for planting, maturing for harvest or sitting empty till the next planting. This is what I call moving forward and I love that.  People are doing something with the land they’ve been blessed with.

Large Cotton Rolls

Rolls of Cotton

Harvested cotton rolls are stored towards the edge of the field until they’re ready to sell.  It seems like most farmers around here harvest cotton in rolls; we’ve seen a few others that use squares.  I’m not sure what the difference is but maybe one day I’ll have the opportunity to interview a cotton farmer to find out.

Robert thought it would be neat for me to show y’all the roll size so I trespassed for this photo. I’m 5’4 and let’s just say that’s one large roll of cotton.

Inside a cotton Roll

Inside the Roll

This is a close up inside the roll, it’s packed tight and dirt surrounds the cotton in addition to lots of seeds. Wouldn’t it be neat to see the cleaning process?  It reminded of our sheep fiber after sheering season, full of dirt and seed from the fields until we started washing it.

Each roll can weigh up to 5.000 pounds, multiply that by thirty or more rolls per field… That’s a lot of cotton!

Even Bee Boxes are set out to help improve cotton crops

Can’t forget the Cotton Helpers

You just can’t forget about the cotton helpers. In our area bee boxes are set up to help pollinate all this activity.  This makes me smile every time I drive by because the farmers here know that working the land goes beyond planting a seed.

Hope you enjoyed this little introduction to cotton farming and who knows maybe that cotton shirt you’re wearing came from a field in Delta County, Texas.

Discover Cotton Farming in Texas



  1. Patti says:

    Hi Carole,

    So interesting. Being from the north I really don’t know much about cotton farming. We see a lot of corn here in PA. I do love cotton though and enjoyed reading all about it.

    1. Carole says:

      It’s so neat to see all this cotton growing. I grew up in WA and remember lots of corn fields too.

  2. Jane says:

    good morning Carole,

    I love this post…interesting and the roll! I keep looking at your picture…amazing! I’ve seen the cotton fields, but I have not seen the roll. I agree that seeing the cleaning process would be cool.

    Happy Friday, xo

    1. Carole says:

      So glad you enjoyed – it’s been really neat being so close to all this awesome activity.

  3. mickie mclaughlin says:

    Carole….this is really an interesting article. We forget all that is involved in true farming and where our products come from. As I read your article, I couldn’t help but remember all the slaves involved in the cotton farming process, as well as tobacco, etc. in the south years ago and the tough life they had. I look forward to your future article on the “cleaning” process. I recently purchased a wreath made of just picked cotton balls (hulls and seeds still intact) and really love it. (JUST AN IDEA FOR A PROJECT–smile)

    1. Carole says:

      Yes you can never forget the people who work the land to make our life easier. Feel very blessed to be surrounded by such hard working people. Great idea on the wreath, think I may grow a small batch of cotton here next year. Just for fun projects…

  4. daisy says:

    How cool is that?!!! Wow, what a fascinating process! I, like you, would love to know more! There really is nothing better than a soft cotton shirt. Well, maybe soft cotton sheets. ;0D

    1. Carole says:

      Yes knowing more…. it will happen I’m so fascinated with this area people just look at me and just smile. I love it here Daisy.. and today we moved the RV to the property and I’m in heaven… seriously it’s like heaven….

  5. Charlene Dryman says:

    I was a kid when my uncle Calvin, in Emmett, TX used to grow cotton. I assume it was for the government. Anyways, in the summer he would take me out in the fields on his tractor. I don’t know if it was picked then, but I remember taking the cotton to the cotton gin in Corsicana. He was going to let me go down in the big machine, but my sis went because I was too scared. Fun times on that farm. I live in Texas City and still remember the cotton gin in Galveston. They tore it all down now. Just a memory and a great one. Cotton is still my preferred clothing item also seersucker.

    1. Carole says:

      Thank you so much for sharing, I love stories like this and it’s neat this post reminded you of such a neat memory… I love cotton too – it just feels good against our skin.

  6. We relocated to Texas (from Chicago) in 1976. The first time we saw a field of cotton, we had to stop. We’d never seen anything quite like it. I wish so much there had been a farmer out there when we stopped because I had so many questions.

    It’s still a beautiful sight to behold.

    1. Carole says:

      It’s wonderful out here and such a beautiful site in September. There are still a lot of fields yet to be harvested and it just warms my heart to be surrounded by so much goodness. It won’t take me long to meet a farmer to learn more… I feel so connected here, with the land and everything we’re doing. It’s simply life changing….

  7. Danielle says:

    That’s really neat to see. I never realized that cotton comes from a plant that flowers!

  8. j erickson says:


    1. Carole says:

      Thank you- it’s pretty sweet to be surrounded by such greatness and hardworking people.

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