Eleven inches of rain couldn't have come at a worse time for Johnny Laney and his son Jack. Still the Jonestown, Miss., cotton producers got what they wanted from their 400 acres of BXN 49B.
The Laneys farmed 2,940 acres of cotton in 2001, including 2,400 acres of Stoneville varieties for seed production. They say the big benefit of BXN 49B, which is resistant to the herbicide Buctril, is they can time herbicide applications to the size of the weed, rather than the age of the cotton plant. That's especially helpful when the weeds are morningglory and cocklebur.
On the BXN 49B field, the Laneys applied 45 units of nitrogen pre-plant and 60 units side-dressed. All pre-plant nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium were applied with variable-rate (VR) equipment.
For the VR application, soil consultant, Joe Pettiet, Pettiet Ag Services, Leland, Miss., precision soil-sampled on 2.5-acre grids. “He puts the information in a computer disk,” Johnny explained. “The applicator can put the disk in a Terra-Gator (for variable rate application of fertilizer).
“You have to trust the applicator and Dr. Pettiet because it's all way above my head,” he added. “But basically, with VR, you put the fertilizer where you need it, and you don't put it where you don't need it. In the long run, the technology is supposed to save us money, and it ought to help our yields.”
The Laneys will put down Treflan or Trilin at planting on all cotton, even Roundup Ready cotton. “A lot of farmers might not do that with Roundup Ready cotton — if you're able to get in there and spray it twice before the fifth true leaf. But that's hard to do if you catch or rain or two.”
BXN 49B was planted at a seeding rate of 12 pounds per acre on May 1. Pre-emerge herbicides were Cotoran at six-tenths of a pound with 2 ounces of Command, for wild cotton, on a 20-inch band. They also applied Temik at 3.5 pounds for thrips control.
It was a low-cost year in terms of insect control. “We applied insecticides twice the entire season,” Johnny said. “Ammo for bollworms in July and Bidrin in the middle part of August for plant bugs. That, plus the Temik is all the insecticide we used all year. We're real pleased with that.”
The Laneys applied Pix on the BXN 49B, but at a lower rate than on other cultivars. “That tells me that the 49B is a shorter, more compact plant than some other Stoneville varieties with the same lineage,” Johnny said.
“But it can get away from you,” he added. “We have another 34-acre furrow-irrigated field of 49B that had been in soybeans for several years, and there was some extra nitrogen in the soil. We didn't cut our nitrogen rate back and didn't know the Good Lord was going to bless us with some rainfall.”
In early June, the Laneys sprayed 8 ounces of Buctril on a 16-inch band. “We used three tips to the row, one over the middle, two on either side with a cultivator. We plowed it and sprayed it one time.”
Buctril “is probably a little better than Roundup on morningglories and cockleburs, but it is not active on grasses,” Johnny said. “But both of them are good, better than anything we had 30 years ago when I started farming.”
The producers also spot-sprayed Select for johnsongrass with an eight-row Scan-Ray from Mid-South Farm Supply. “You use that when the johnsongrass gets above the cotton,” Johnny said. “On each row it has electric sensors that turn the nozzles on when you come upon a clump of johnsongrass. It saved a lot of chemical.”
They finished the crop out with two more cultivations and a layby of Direx. Then Mother Nature threw the Laneys a curve ball.
The BXN 49B looked like a two-bale-plus crop by early August, according to the Laneys. “Unfortunately, we got about 11 inches of rain on all of the BXN 49B fields before we had a chance to pick them,” Jack said. “No doubt, that hurt it.”
They had even worse luck with one BXN 49B field planted previously in soybeans. “It wasn't the best dirt in the world,” Jack noted. “But we land-formed it so we could furrow-irrigate it last spring. The cuts we had to make hurt the soil some, so we'll put gin trash on that field this year to build it back.”
A hailstorm hit the beleaguered field in mid-May, and the Laneys had to replant about half of the field in the middle of June. That field averaged 536 pounds. “But you can't blame any of that on the variety,” Jack said.
With that field, the BXN 49B averaged 824 pounds, without it, 914 pounds. Other BXN fields averaged 900, 938 and 966 pounds, and the 34-acre field which had been in soybeans the previous year averaged 753 pounds.
The Laneys were pleased with grades and quality across all 2,940 acres. “We had a very small percentage of high micronaire cotton, but nothing like the some competing varieties we've heard about. Our average micronaire was 4.6 to 4.8. And we were getting the best grades I can remember right before the big rain. After the rain, we started seeing a lot of light spots.”
The Laneys averaged 1,080 pounds per acre on 1,400 acres of ST 4892BR and 1,045 pounds on 694 acres of ST 474.
They averaged 1,036 pounds over the entire farm. “Anytime we do that, we've had a good year. On solid cotton, we need to average 900 pounds or better,” Johnny said. “With the price of cotton, that's not enough, but it should be.”
Despite the ill-timed rains, the Laneys were happy with their BXN 49B. “I think it's a good-yielding variety,” Jack said. “The Buctril has a place for cockleburs and morningglories. And we like the Bt.”
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