Cotton Fields

cotton bole

There’s an official cotton driving tour in the eastern part of the South Carolina, from Bishopville to near Dillion, but one can spot cotton fields in pretty much any part of the state. I watched cotton grow from seedling to flower, then saw the giant harvesters pick the cotton from along US321. Even after the plants were bare and plowed under, one can see the evidence of it along the road, white fluffs of cotton, like bits of snow.

Day trips are a good introduction to the various crops grown locally. Some are recognizable, some not so much. If I didn’t recognize the plant I asked the ag teacher at school to learn what the plant was called and thus learned about milo and soybeans. Corn is easy to identify, but I did wonder why it stood in the fields so long. Turns out that after the ears are harvested, they let it stay to become feed for the cattle.

cotton flower

Cotton is probably my favorite crop to watch grow. First they’re little green plants in neat rows. After two months the flower buds appear with the flower blossoming three weeks later. I always thought it wonderful they came in different colors, but, as it turns out, the flower changes from white to yellow to pink to red before the petals fall to the ground, leaving the green pods that eventually pop open to reveal the cotton. It’s really a sight to see when all fluffy wads of cotton in show.

cotton harvester

A day trip out in the fall might net you the scene of the big machines, pickers or strippers, picking the cotton. The cotton is squashed into a huge rectangular shapes ready for transport or in giant rolls. The latter is new.

On the Cotton trail, there is a museum in Bishopville. It features a giant boll weevel, the scrounge of cotton. I’d wanted to see it and stopped by. While I read it the museum is free, it is not.


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