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The cotton market had its fair share of challenges in 2008 – decreased U.S. exports, a surplus cotton supply and the world economic crisis. But ask Brooks Aycock, a cotton producer in Belzoni, Miss., about his cotton crop in 2008, and you will get a different story.

It’s all about choices for Aycock. In fact, when a producer has the option of choosing seed varieties from several companies, it makes life easier.

And, as Aycock will attest, competition is a win-win proposition for all parties – the farmer as well as the seed company.

Of the 1,880 acres of cotton he planted in 2008, 400 acres were PhytoGen brand PHY 375 WRF – a variety that yielded a perfect bale of cotton for Aycock.

“It stood out among the other cotton varieties,” Aycock says. “The staple length of 39 and micronaire of 3.9 were some of the best I’ve ever seen. It was very impressive, and it yielded with the best of them.”

Though he was pleased with his crop, Aycock recognizes the issues affecting the cotton industry. He believes that for U.S. cotton to stay competitive in the global market, it needs to consistently deliver high grades to the customer.

“If we are going to sell our cotton in the export market right now, we need to have cotton that is above standard quality,” he says. “If seed companies bring less-than-the-best cottonseed for us to grow, it could be detrimental to cotton in the United States.”

In Search Of Quality

In 2008, Sam Stuckey, a producer in Clarkedale, Ark., planted 180 acres of PhytoGen brand to the same variety, and it produced the highest cotton weight of all varieties on his farm.

“This cottonseed had a higher yield and quality compared to other varieties,” Stuckey says. “It is easy to manage, and the fields have uniform heights all year long. Uniformity is an indication that the crop has good yield potential.”

PHY 375 WRF averaged just less than 1,500 pounds per acre across Stuckey’s farm. One of his fields planted with the variety yielded nearly 1,800 pounds per acre.

Due to the weak market and crop production costs, Stuckey may cut back cotton acreage in 2009, but he says the cottonseed he does plant will include this same variety.

“If I grow much cotton next year, I plan on having this variety in the mix, and it will represent a good percentage of my acreage,” Stuckey adds. “It just might be the one to beat.”

Arkansas cotton Extension specialist Tom Barber believes this additional option is a positive development for producers in his state.

“It’s good to have choices,” he says. “As far as additional varieties that are now available, it’s hard to keep up with all of the new ones that are being commercially released. However, for the last several years, PhytoGen has done a good job of offering more choices for Mid-South farmers.”

Barber says it’s encouraging to see so many seed companies dedicated to bringing good germplasm to seed varieties that perform well.

Bader Rutter, which represents Dow AgroSciences, provided information for this article.

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