Cotton Links


New Varieties:
Great Expectations


Seed companies across the Belt have released the new roster of cotton varieties for 2009. In fact, many of the newcomers are noted and described in Cotton Farming’s Seed Variety Guide that was published in December 2008.

In that same issue, Mississippi Extension cotton specialist Darrin Dodds reminds producers that variety selection may be the most important decision a farmer makes this year.

“Our (Mississippi) producers are still planting nearly 60 percent of the acres with varieties containing the Bollgard I technology,” Dodds says. “I strongly encourage all cotton producers to plant at least a portion of their acres in 2009 to a variety that will be available in the 2010 season.”

Obviously, when it comes to cotton varieties, the seed companies are very proud of the new ones that they are bringing to market, and rightly so. If you had a chance to attend field days or observe any on-farm trials last summer, you probably saw many a field of beautiful cotton, showcasing the “new and improved” 2009 lineup.

We know how the seed companies feel about their new varieties, but we wondered what our readers expect from them if they had to pick one thing: Higher yields, better quality characteristics, decreased inputs or whether they are attractive to our export customers.

After all the votes were tallied, 54 percent of the Web Poll participants say they expect higher yields. Better quality characteristics and decreased inputs each captured 18 percent of the votes, while 10 percent expect the new cotton varieties to be attractive to our export customers.

Following is a sampling of the comments that we received from those who voted in the February Web Poll. Due to the large amount of responses, we are unable to print all of them, but we do appreciate the feedback.

• “You can’t feasibly grow cotton without trying to make the highest yield possible, within reason of returns. In short, when I think of growing cotton, the first word that comes to mind is yield.”

• “We have grown cotton in the Tennessee Valley for years. We grew wheat, beans and corn last year, and corn the year before that because of the market and a two-year drought. The target price of cotton and insecurity of grains on our soil may bring us home to King Cotton again, but the risk is great.”

• “If we compete in the world market, then quality still trumps the rest.”

• “I went to the local cotton production meeting to try and learn new ways to save money on cotton production. All I learned from the experts was that farmers need to find ways to cut costs. I don’t know why I went !!”

• “We have reached a point where everyone knows we must have yield. This is understood! Export quality should be our greatest expectation. If we can’t market the crop we produce, it doesn’t matter how much we grow. Quality is King!”

• “I agree that higher yields are the only thing to consider at this time. We have to get the most dollars per acre to stay in the cotton business. I went through the grain scenario in the ’70s and almost lost everything to the Carter grain embargo. I think the grain bubble will burst by next year.”

In our April Web Poll, we are asking our readers who are trying to contain fertilizer costs to vote on which of the following practices would be most helpful to their operations and why. Please post your thoughts on the subject in the “Comments” section.

To participate in this month’s Web Poll, go online at www.cottonfarming.com. The results of the April poll will be reported in the Cotton Farming June issue.

Web Poll Results

In February, we asked: As planting time approaches, seed companies are rolling out their new varieties for ’09. What is your greatest expectation from these offerings?

• Higher yields — 54 %

• Better quality characteristics — 18 %

• Decreased inputs — 18 %

• Attractive to export customers — 10 %

April Web Poll Question

If you are trying to contain fertilizer costs, which of the following practices would be most helpful to your operation and why?

(1) Soil testing

(2) Plant legume cover crops

(3) Use chicken litter

(4) Buy fertilizer and use variable rate technology to apply it

Register your vote at www.cottonfarming.com.

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