MEMPHIS MOMENTS
6:09 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

International Harvester Cotton Picker

Credit Jim Parkin

On October 2, 1944, several hundred people came  to watch eight International Harvester mechanical cotton pickers clear a cotton field. 


On October 2, 1944, several hundred people came to the Hopson plantation outside Clarksville, MS, to watch eight International Harvester mechanical cotton pickers clean the field. 

A skilled worker could pick twenty pounds of cotton in an hour. One machine could pick up to 1,000 pounds, or two bales, of cotton in one hour.

In one day, the machines picked all the cotton, a total of 62 bales. One machine could do the work of fifty people.

The days of the sharecropper and field hand were passing. Within a few years, hundreds of thousands of these families were out of work and migrating north or west.

The first commercially available mechanical cotton picker was produced in 1949 at the International Harvester plant in Memphis.

To learn more about all of our region's history, visit the Pink Palace Family of Museums, or on Facebook, or at http://www.memphismuseums.org.