Low Cotton

Cotton-picking was the first major California harvest to be fully mechanized. By the 60s machines picked the great majority of cotton. Hand pickers were  used only when ground was too wet for machines or with certain long-staple strains.

I took this set of photos near Pixley in Tulare County. It includes classic hand picking images: the long cotton sacks dragging behind the

stooped laborers, weighing up,  the truck where workers dumped their sacks. Workers said the weigh master  often used rigged scales so they would toss rocks into their sacks to compensate.

The new order is reflected in the mechanical cotton pickers at work in fields near Corcoran.