Growing up surrounded by lush cotton fields in Coahoma County, Miss., Darrah Parker developed a life-long love for the crop. That strong attachment triggered a near-year-long process that has produced a stunning set of photographs.
“I love cotton harvest time and wanted to capture what I consider the most exciting moment of cotton production,” says Parker, marketing manager for Delta Farm Press. “Previously I have had photographs shot from the ground and from an airplane. I wanted to find just the right in-between height to capture the magnitude of five gigantic cotton pickers cutting a distinct swath through the snow white cotton.”
That ideal height put a photographer and a videographer about 65 feet in the air, at the end of the boom of a bucket truck on the turn row next to the field.
The results are the photograph on the cover of the Nov. 11, 2011, Delta Farm Press, those in Cotton harvest from above and hundreds more as the pickers move across the field. A video was shot, too.
The setting is Parker’s family’s farm — Heaton Farms at Lyon, Miss. — operated by her brother, Cliff Heaton. Managers Brian Fyfe and Freddie Gordon helped set up the shots, and Gordon coordinated the pickers by radio.
The photographs show five cotton pickers (three 2010 model Case IH MBX 625 pickers and two 2011 model Case IH MBX 635 pickers) moving through a field in a V formation leaving a swath of picked rows in their wake.
“Picking capacity varies, depending on the size of the fields and the yield of the cotton. The better the cotton, the lower acres per hour — but that, of course, is a good thing. On average, one of the pickers will pick about 6 acres per hour,” says farm manage Fyfe.
The field, harvested Oct. 12, yielded about 1,300 pounds per acre. It was planted May 8 to Deltapine 1048.
The photographer for the shoot was Johnny Jennings of Greenwood, Miss. Charles Fyfe of Clarksdale, Miss., shot the video.
See more of the photographs at Cotton harvest from above.