No matter how fast new commercial cotton seed varieties are released to the public, the one common benefit is obvious to everyone – numerous choices for producers.
That is precisely what farmers will have in 2010 with several companies increasing their portfolios. The timing couldn’t be better – especially with increased cotton acres forecast for nearly every region of the Belt.
The question for producers is how much do they know about a variety? How will it fit into their operation and is it compatible with the rotation being employed on that farm?
A new approach for Monsanto and Deltapine for the past two years has been the New Product Exposure Program (NPE). Potential new seed varieties were grown across the Belt, giving 160 farmers the chance to see how the seed would perform in real production environments.
Most experts believe this approach is more effective – as opposed to a controlled plot trial at a research station.
Major Launch For 2010
For the second consecutive year, Monsanto and Deltapine are launching new cotton varieties based on the feedback they received from farmers participating in the NPE program.
Six new varieties for 2010 were introduced at an elaborate event in Charleston, S.C., in mid-December. Although numerous varieties were planted in the NPE trials across the country, only six were chosen to be included in the 2010 lineup.
More than 13 varieties were tested by the 160 farmers who participated. The six varieties chosen were:
• DP 1048 B2RF
• DP 1050 B2RF
• DP 1028 B2RF
• DP 1034 B2RF
• DP 1032 B2RF
• DP 1044 B2RF
According to Monsanto and Delta-pine officials, the 1048 and 1050 varieties are suited to mid- and full-season regions that stretch from Georgia to south Texas.
For early to mid-maturing areas from North Carolina through the Mississippi Delta, the 1028 and 1034 varieties are the best fits, according to company representatives.
Because of water availability issues, the 1032 and 1044 varieties are targeted for West Texas.
Additional information about all of these varieties will be available at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in New Orleans.
Better Way To Evaluate
Mississippi cotton consultant Tucker Miller says this approach for testing varieties is probably the best option. For a long time, he has advocated letting producers observe new varieties in a true farm field environment as opposed to small six-row test plots.
“This approach is definitely better because you are able to observe more than just six rows,” he says. “Monsanto gave all of these farmers several bags of seed to plant. It was a big enough quantity of seed that you could manage it like a regular crop.”
Varieties studied in small plot trials wind up being managed the same, according to Miller, and that doesn’t produce in-depth data.
Although Miller and other consultants are still involved in their own learning curve about the new 2010 varieties that Monsanto and Deltapine are launching, he believes this project can help producers improve their management skills. For example, he believes that when DP 555 BG/RR was launched in 2002, it took producers nearly three years to learn how to manage that vigorous cotton variety.
“This is definitely an improvement,” Miller says. “When you can look at a variety over 12 to 15 acres, it makes a world of difference compared to a small six-row plot. You can learn more, and that’s what producers want.”
The general reaction from producers who attended the launch event in Charleston was positive.
Texas producer Kirby Lewis of Lubbock grew two Class of ‘10 varieties on his farm, and both exceeded four bales per acre.
“They stripped well at harvest and weren’t too loose in the boll,” he says. “They were fairly stormproof and were excellent yielders.”
Meanwhile, Tennessee producers Don and Mike Pearson say they were pleased at how the new varieties performed on their farm. However, bad weather in the fall had an unfortunate impact on yields.
“I wish we would have had better growing conditions for the plot because it was a real test to grow cotton last year,” says Don. “We averaged 950 pounds per acre across the seven or eight varieties planted on our farm. They were 100 to 200 pounds better than everything else.”
Perhaps the most candid assessment came from Texas producer Gary Grogan of Amarillo. He is confident that the new varieties will improve his yields and quality, but he also hopes he can keep up with the rapid pace of the technology being offered.
“There’s no question that the varieties are helping us,” says Grogan. “I’m just trying to keep up with the technology because it’s coming at us pretty fast.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad we have such good choices coming down the pike right now. I’m just trying to digest everything.”
Monsanto and Deltapine contributed information for this article. For more data, go to www.monsanto.com.