Flat Aggie

 Flat Aggie is a series of reports showing how our food and fiber are grown and is geared toward children.  It is a great teaching tool, so please share it with your children's teachers.  To see our complete series, go to the bottom of the page and work up.  For other Flat Aggie reports from around the U. S., go to:

Flat Aggie #2
Flat Aggie Helps out for Cotton Harvest
Last time you saw Flat Aggie, our cotton was still green and had only a few open cotton bolls.  Now the cotton has lost all of it's leaves, all the bolls have popped open and the cotton fiber inside them has dried out.  That means one thing:  It's time to harvest cotton!!  That's the best time of the year out here in West Central Texas where we farm at the Southern end of the "Worlds Largest Cotton Patch."  That's an area that goes from the Northern Panhandle of Texas to the Concho Valley here in San Angelo.  For many years, this has been the largest concentration of cotton acres in the world.  Brazil and China are now having some very big areas where they are raising cotton, but we still like to think of our part of Texas as the biggest!
All the leaves are now dried up and dropped on the ground.  The cotton is all dried out by the sun and remains in the dried burr.

Flat Aggie's first field of open cotton!  Look how white it is!
We plant the cotton in rows to make it easy to harvest

Close up of a cotton boll.

Every morning before Daniel gets started harvesting, he has to clean all the lint and dust off of his cotton stripper.  That's the machine that he uses to drive along the rows of cotton and it strips the bolls and burrs off the stalk.  At this time, the cotton fiber still has cotton seeds attached inside.  The seed stays in the fiber until it goes to the cotton gin.  I'll take Flat Aggie to the cotton gin next time!
Flat Aggie helping Daniel Clean his Cotton Stripper
This part is called a Row Unit on the Header.  These contain the long rubber flaps and long brushes that spin very fast and strip the cotton and burrs right off the stalk as Daniel drives the cotton stripper along the rows of cotton.

 As Daniel drives the Cotton Stripper along the rows of cotton, it goes into the big basket on the back.  Once the Cotton Stripper has passed, just the bare stalks are left.  Those stalks are dried wood and there are some woodworking artists that make ink pens out of the dried stalks!

Once the Cotton Stripper has passed, all that is left are the stalks!
 After Daniel fills the basket on his Cotton Stripper full of cotton, he can press some buttons inside the cab and big lifters lift the basket up so that he can empty the cotton into the Boll Buggy.  This is so he can keep going back and forth across the field stripping cotton and filling up his basket while the Boll Buggy driver takes the cotton to be packed into big blocks by the Module Builder.  It's the job of the Boll Buggy Driver and the Module Builder Operator to keep things moving on the farm and to make sure that the the Cotton Stripper Drivers can keep harvesting.  When it is time to harvest cotton, you can't wait too long or it could start falling off the plant onto the ground.  Then you have lost your cotton crop!!
The Boll Buggy is a BIG basket-trailer that takes the harvested cotton from the Cotton Stripper to the Module Builder.  (It's fun to drive!)

The big orange box is the Module Builder.  The tall arms on top pack the cotton inside into tight blocks of cotton.
In order for the cotton gin to send trucks to our field to pick up the harvested cotton, it must be pressed into big blocks called Modules.  The Boll Buggy driver pulls up beside the Module Builder and empty's the cotton into the big box. When the Boll Buggy basket is lifted all the way up, it is as tall as a 3 story building!

Cotton going from the Boll Buggy to the box of the Module Builder
That's 3 stories tall!

 Once the cotton has been put into the big box of the Module Builder, the person in the cab starts working the levers that move the press, or as we call it, the Tromper, back and forth across the cotton to pack it into the tight block called a Cotton Module.
The cotton starts out all loose after being unloaded by the Boll Buggy

Now it has been packed tightly and is all smooth on top.

Flat Aggie sitting the cab of the Module Builder helping me move the Tromper as I pack the cotton.

The back door of the Module Builder can then be lifted up and the tractor that pulls the Module Builder pulls the big box off of the packed cotton leaving the pretty white Cotton Module!

This is about the size of your School Bus!!

Close up of what the packed cotton looks like in the Cotton Module.
 Each day before leaving the field, we all help out and put tarps, or covers, on the Cotton Modules.  That is so that if it rains, it won't get the cotton wet.  While it is on the stalk, it can dry out very easily but once it is in the packed Cotton Module, it can stay wet too long and ruin the fiber.
Now the cotton is ready to go to the cotton gin!  And it is one step closer to becoming your blue jeans!  If you have questions, please leave us a comment and we will be happy to answer them.  See you next time out here next to the Chihuahuan Desert!

Flat Aggie #1
Flat Aggie on a Texas Cotton Farm

This is Daniel showing Flat Aggie one of our cotton fields.
We are so happy to have Flat Aggie come to Texas and help us on our cotton farm!  My name is Suzie Wilde (pronounced Will-dee) and my husband is Daniel Wilde.
I'm Suzie!

We farm cotton in West Central Texas near San Angelo.  That's just a little way west of the very heart of Texas.  This puts our cotton farms very near the edge of the largest desert in North America, the Chihuahuan Desert.  The Chihuahuan Desert goes from West Texas and Southern New Mexico down into Northern Mexico.
See where the map shows brown?  That is the desert.  Flat Aggie's left hand is about where our cotton farms are located in Texas.
 On our farms we only raise dryland cotton. We don't use any irrigation, which is water pumped from the ground or from a lake or river.  We depend only on the rainfall we receive.  In 2011, we didn't receive any rainfall at all during our planting season, so the cotton we planted that year never started growing.  That can happen out here next to the Chihuahuan Desert.  Some years we get a lot of rain, and other years we don't get much rain at all.  Also out here by the desert, the temperatures get very, very hot in the summer.  Sometimes we have as many as 100 days that are over 100 degrees!  The humidity (a measurement of how much moisture or water is in the air) is also very low.  These three things, low rainfall, high temperatures and low humidity, make growing cotton a very big challenge.  But this year, we have received lots of rainfall, the summer was very mild and we have a very good cotton crop growing!
Flat Aggie gets to see his first cotton plants!  These plants have cotton that is open and ready for harvest.
 My husband, Daniel, has been farming cotton for 41 years out here next to the desert!  His dad was a cotton farmer and his granddad was a cotton farmer.  My dad and my granddad ran cotton gins.   This is a place where cotton farmers take the cotton after they harvest it from the fields using big machines called cotton strippers.  They are called this because they strip the cotton bolls with the hull and all right off of the stalk.  At the cotton gin, the fluffy fibers are separated from the cotton seeds.  The cotton gin uses big machines that have a lot of sharp saws spinning very, very fast to saw the seeds apart from the fibers.  Then a giant press will press the fibers into big bales of cotton that weigh 500 pounds and are wrapped in plastic.

The cotton bales are shipped on trucks to a fabric mill right here in Texas in a town called Levelland (it is named Levelland because the land is so flat and level that you can see for miles and miles in all directions!)  At the mill, the fibers are spun into thread and the threads are then woven together into denim fabric.  The denim is then shipped to a factory in Guatemala, a country in Central America, where the denim is made into blue jeans!  You may be wearing a pair of blue jeans made from our cotton right now!  Flat Aggie has on his blue jeans to help Daniel in the cotton fields!
We got Flat Aggie his own cowboy hat to wear while he is in Texas!

Daniel and I can't wait to show Flat Aggie more about cotton!  Harvest time is here and he will get to help Daniel harvest some cotton with his cotton stripper.  Flat Aggie will also get to go to the cotton gin and meet our friend, Mina, who is the manager at the cotton gin where we will take our harvested cotton.  See you next time out here next to the Chihuahua Desert!


  1. This is so neat! I am trying to "agvocate" (advocate about agriculture) to my social media friends and my current family. My favorite way to influence people has been teaching children. I have two five and six year old siblings, they will LOVE to see this and I can't wait to show them! Thank you so much for the great read!

    1. So glad to hear you can use our Flat Aggie experience! We too and AG-vocates. And I agree with you that we must start early teaching young people about agriculture and farmers.