Today’s cotton picking technology is more advanced than ever. 

At the core of these modern advances is the machine’s air system. This network of fans has many important functions inside your cotton picker. The air system helps cool the engine, move seed cotton throughout the machine, and of course it ensures that you have a smooth and easy harvest. 

Understanding your air system and spotting trouble before it starts is the best way to keep your cotton picker working for years to come. 

What are the Different Types of Air Systems Found on Modern Cottonpickers

Cotton harvesting has evolved dramatically since the dawn of the industrial revolution. Today’s mechanical cotton pickers can handle harvesting jobs that would have been daunting even a few decades ago. 

These modern harvesters tackle these jobs through the use of innovative new systems. Today’s harvesting scene is dominated by two machines: cotton pickers and cotton strippers. 

Cotton pickers relied on moistened spindles to separate the seed cotton from the burr while cotton strippers, which handle crops that already have green vegetation, use batts and brushes to move the cotton to a conveyor belt. Both of these systems incorporate blown air to move the cotton. 

Since cotton is so light, these air systems are vital in moving the cotton through the machinery. These air systems lift the cotton from the harvesting machinery into a basket that then empties into the boll buggy. 

If the air system in your cotton picker is damaged or wearing out, your entire harvesting operation can come to a screeching halt. 

How Do Cotton Picking Air Systems Fail?

Modern cotton harvesting machinery is complicated stuff. These machines rely on a network of interconnected systems to function properly. Nowhere in the cotton picker, or cotton stripper, is more complicated than the air system. 

Here are a few of the most common problems we see with cotton picker air systems. 

Picking Cotton too Early

Before cotton reaches maturity, it is difficult for the machinery to process. Cotton harvesting machines are designed to handle cotton that is either mature and ready to harvest or cotton that is a little past maturity in the case of cotton strippers.

When you pick cotton too early, you run the risk of damaging your machine’s air system. 


Chokes are missed spots that happen during your harvest. These can happen for a variety of reasons such as early morning dew weighing down your crop or patches of your field still being damp after a heavy rain. 

Another cause is your air system struggling to keep up with the workload. An older or worn out air system will cause chokes to happen much the same way damp crops can. If your crops are dry as can be, it could be a problem in your air system causing chokes. 

Dry Spindles

Among the air systems many functions in keeping your spindles moist. The spindles are kept moist by a system of fans that is interconnected to the overall air system. When your spindles are constantly drying out, it can be a clear sign that there is a problem somewhere in your air system. 

Engine Throttle Trouble 

Just like your car, your cotton picking machinery relies on a well timed throttle to make sure that enough fuel is reaching the engine. If the throttle is either too open or too constricted, this can mean a significant loss of power which is commonly felt as a problem with your air system. 

The air system pulls its power from the engine and when your engine is struggling, your air system won’t be too far behind.  

Engine Overheating

Engine overheating is a problem faced by all combustion vehicles. Today’s cotton pickers are cooled by a system of fans bringing in cool air into the engine. Much like a high performance muscle car, these machines need a well regulated air flow to stay cool. 

If you are experiencing a frequently overheating engine, it can be a sign that your air system is struggling to keep up. 


If you’ve been in the cotton business for more than a day, you’ll know the historic threat that fire has posed to our industry. 

Your machinery relies on the air system to keep parts cool, moist, and make sure cotton is moving through the system. A failure anywhere in this chain can lead to a dangerous fire. 

Making sure your air system is in great condition is not only the safest decision you can make, it’s also great for your wallet. 

Where to Go to Buy Aftermarket Cottonpicker Air System Parts

When harvest season comes, you rely on your cotton pickers and cotton strippers to get your crops out of the field and into the market. Keeping your machinery maintained and in good running order is the best way to prevent unwelcome surprises. 

Certi-Pik is the leading distributor of aftermarket cotton picker parts. Their friendly staff can help you get the replacements you need to make sure your machinery is always reliable. 

Visit the Certi-Pik website today to find the Case IH and John Deere cotton picker parts you need!