"A&M gets an Orsak family classic" by: Mike Reddell

Contributed photo
County Agent Emeritus James Engbrock, left, and Thomas Orsak stand in front of a 1958 single row cotton harvester that the George W. Orsak Estate is donating to Texas A&M AgriLife for use in cotton research.

  The George W. Orsak Estate of Matagorda County has given Texas A&M what could be considered almost an heirloom gift of a 60-year-plus cotton harvester that the university will put to immediate use on fields throughout Texas. 
   The 1958 single-row cotton harvester has to be considered an agriculture classic. 
   That’s because the machine represented a giant leap from hand picking cotton to the automation of plucking the boll from the plant and sending it to the basket or sack atop the harvester, said former County Agent Emeritus James Engbrock. 
   The single-row harvester has been in the the George Orsak family all of these years, including longtime Matagorda County cotton farmer Thomas Orsak, his son Carey, and Thomas’ four sisters, Mrs. Heresa Hluza of West Columbia, and Mrs. Marilyn Hollas, Mrs. Barbara Manna and Ms. Jane LaCroix, all of Bay City. 
   “The one-row picker replaced humans who had been picking by hand for thousands of years,” Engbrock said. 
   “This is an icon of Matagorda County agriculture.” 
   “In the 1950s, this was top stuff,” Engbrock noted. 
   The Orsaks’ 2019 gift to Texas A&M Agrilife Extension was made possible by Engbrock serving as a go-between for the family and the university. 
   He knew the family’s wish to donate the machine to A&M agriculture research and Engbrock learned of how AgriLife could best use it – and not as an agriculture museum exhibit. 

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