It’s that time of year when the cotton has been brought in from the fields, which now look a bit bereft and battered. Cotton warehouses are scattered all over the state (last time I was in Holly Springs, the massive Federal Compress warehouses were slated for demolition–has that happened by now?) This is how the insides of many of those warehouses would have looked back in the middle part of the 20th century. Fire was a constant source of anxiety, with all those cotton fibers floating around waiting for a spark or a cigarette or whatnot–notice the large signs showing where the fire plugs are located. I think, but am not sure, that the line running above the right-hand trusses, is the clerestory that allowed light into these vast spaces. At this point, these bales are ginned and cleaned, and perhaps (?) already graded by quality. We await an expert’s opinion on that last part.
Nowadays, though, “brought in” probably isn’t the best phrase, since the round bales (sometimes rectangular) sit out in the fields waiting to be picked up. I hope someone who knows about the modern processing of cotton can tell us what these bales represent. Are the harvesters producing these? Are they already ginned at this point and merely waiting for transportation to a textile mill? Or are they just picked and baled here and still in need of ginning and other post-harvesting processing?