Cotton Varieties: New Year, New Planting Decisions

    As a cotton producer, you are faced with endless management decisions over the course of a growing season. When considering this year’s high cost of production, its critical these decisions generate a positive return thus none is more important than variety selection. The difference between a high performer versus one with less genetic potential can be over 200 pounds an acre, which at today’s price is over $200 per acre.

    The selection process has become increasingly more difficult as we are being rapidly introduced to a growing number of varieties containing a wider array of technological traits. Even so, there are certain key factors which must be considered in the selection process.

    This issue of The Turn Row will be devoted to discussing these. In addition, our annual recommended planting lists for both the Southeast and Southwest regions are included. Be it known, these recommendations are based on extensive review of university variety trial data, on-farm evaluations, and personal observations in search of varieties exhibiting consistent superior performance.

    However, don’t discount a variety that has worked well for you but not included on our lists, for I’ve always felt your own farm is its best experiment station. This rings especially true this year as the lack of full season varieties in our lists is largely due to a wet spring and late summer being less conducive to the fuller season varieties.

    Selection Criteria

    Yield – Obviously, the most important selection criteria is a variety’s yield potential. As mentioned, this may vary by over 200 pounds per acre among varieties. Once seed has been planted, the genetic potential of that field has been determined. All other management practices only serve to preserve and achieve this potential.

    Taking it one step further, look for consistency to avoid choosing an outlier. Ideally, you want varieties which deliver superior performance across a wide range of environments, soils, planting dates, and weather patterns as seen in those performing well across multiple test sites.

    Maturity – In the past, we sacrificed both yield and fiber quality when planting early season varieties. Thanks to genetic selection, this is no longer the case, though. Today’s early maturing varieties are much more indeterminate in growth habit and more stress tolerant like full season varieties.

    AgFax Weed Solutions

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    The choice between planting early, mid, and full season varieties can now be based on the calendar or as a means of maximizing harvest capacity without taking on any undue risk.

    Transgenic Traits – Once limited to Bt technology for worm control, transgenic seed technology is now available for the control of resistant weeds, nematodes, and other insects. Most high performing varieties now have the three gene technology for increased bollworm control. DP 1646 is the only two gene variety still recommended.

    Your choice of herbicide package should be based on weed species present and their pressure. Unfortunately, the risk of crop injury is too great to use a combination of these. Your choices are Extended Flex (dicamba), Liberty Link (glufosinate), and Enlist (2,4, D), all of which are glyphosate tolerant, as well.

    Fiber Quality – Often overlooked, fiber quality is very important for premiums are being paid only on the highest of qualities. The three quality factors most associated with plant genetics is staple length, strength, and, to a lesser degree, micronaire. Once considered base grade, a 34 staple is now discounted in the marketplace while 36 and above is preferred.

    To our good fortune, most all currently available varieties will easily meet these demands. As for strength, 30 grams per tex is the new norm replacing 28 grams of the past. The ability to capture a three or four cent premium versus a two or three cent discount by simple variety selection will go a long way in covering input costs.

    In summary, we are very fortunate to have a host of varieties to choose from which will satisfy the above criteria. We recommend planting multiple varieties so as not to put all your eggs in one basket. Devote most of your acreage to tried and tested varieties with a track record of high performance while planting the remainder in promising, newer varieties in order to gain some experience.

    Southeast Variety Recommendations

    (Listed early to full season)

    • DP 2012 B3XF – good for double cropping, blight resistant, less PGR requirements
    • DP 2020 B3XF – adapted for the Southeast, better under irrigation
    • DP 2127 B3XF – best of the 2021 class
    • ST 5091 B3XF – good seedling vigor, adapted to wide range of soils
    • ST 4990 B3XF – good seedling vigor, less PGR requirements, root knot nematode resistant
    • NG 3195 B3XF – adaptive from Texas through SE,
    • DG 3535 B3XF – high gin turnout, high PGR requirement
    • DP 2038 B3XF – one of DP’s highest yielders, tends to short staple
    • PHY 400 W3FE – compact plant growth, less PGR, root knot nematode resistant
    • PHY 443 W3FE – root knot and reniform resistant, high PGR requirement,
    • DG 3615 B3XF – storm tolerant, excellent vert resistance
    • DP 1646 B2XF – proven, caution 2 gene technology, less than desirable stalk strength
    • DP 2055 B3XF – good dryland cotton, fuller season

    Southwest Variety Recommendations

    • DP 2012 B3XF – overall good variety plus bacterial blight resistant.
    • DP 2020 B3XF – fruits early, handles heat stress well, comparable to 1646
    • DP 1948 B3XF – good vigor once it’s to a stand.
    • ST 5707 B2XF – Good in limited water situations. Showy all season.
    • ST 4990 B3XF – Strong emergence and good fiber quality. Stout variety.
    • DG 3615 B3XF – quality and seedling vigor, plus excellent Verticillium wilt tolerance, bacterial blight resistance and storm tolerance.
    • PHY 400 W3FE – compact plant growth, less PGR, root knot nematode resistant
    • PHY 443 W3FE – root knot and reniform resistant, high PGR requirement,
    • DP 1646 B2XF – proven. Only B2 technology but consistent in both yield and quality.

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