With cotton prices showing little sign of improvement in the near future, producers are going to have to make it up on volume, so to speak. Fortunately, cotton breeders are developing promising, new varieties that could help with that.
Take the Cotton Agronomic Performance or CAP trials that Bayer CropScience/Stoneville has been conducting in the Mississippi Delta. Andy White, regional agronomist for Stoneville, talked about the trials during a field day at the Stoneville plots near Dundee, Miss., earlier this fall.
“We have seven experimentals that we’re testing in Mississippi this year,” said White, who was interviewed at the close of the field day. “And it’s one of the best lineups that I’ve looked at in a long time. We have several varieties in this trial that outyielded our commercial standards by as much as 200 pounds in 2013.”
At the time of the field day in October, White had already harvested one of the plots, “and the seed cotton weights beat everything in the trial” from last year’s plots.
“Fruit retention on these varieties looks very good,” he said. “Except for a couple, all of them seem to be easy to manage; they don’t get real big; maturity on them fits our territory, fits our region. A couple can be real growthy varieties, but we need that diversity.
“We need as much diversity in these varieties as we can get, and our breeders have done a real good job of giving that to us.”
On another front, White said growers and agronomists saw more bollworm damage in all varieties in 2014, due, in part possibly, to fewer pyrethroid sprays for plant bugs in the Mississippi Delta this past year.
“As a result, I think we had some bollworms that came through and did some damage,” he said. “It remains to be seen how significant that is. We have some good folks that work in Extension like Drs. Angus Catchot and Jeff Gore. They’ll make surveys and tell us how bad the damage was.
“There were instances where we saw that, and it was in all the varieties and all of the technologies, as well.”
White says it would be difficult to predict how many new varieties will make it through the selection process and into retailer inventories for sale and planting in 2015.
“Right now, I have at least two or maybe three that I would like to see make it,” he noted. “But it takes all of us to make that decision. We have people in other states who are involved, and it depends on what we need. We don’t release a variety just because we need to release a GLT (Glytol-Liberty-tolerant).
“It has to be a variety that can perform under a lot of different conditions. We can’t just release one that will only perform well in Mississippi. We have to have something that will perform well across the Mid-South. We have to have varieties that will perform in the Southeast and the Mid-Atlantic. And, as I mentioned earlier, we have a diverse group, a range of maturities.”
One of the varieties in the plots near Dundee is later than Stoneville 6448, which would probably make it a good fit for the Southeast, he said. “But, if it works well here, it’s something I would like to have because we need varieties that can go on the tougher ground that we have, you know the back 40 where people have been putting beans or rice.”
Stoneville also has a variety in the Dundee trials that is as early or earlier than Stoneville 4747, “what we call our racehorse varieties,” says White. “If that variety performs real well, has good fiber quality and yields as well or better than what we have, it would be one I would like to see advance.
“It’s a matter of finding the right fit for the right variety, and that’s something we’ve been working on for years at Stoneville.”
For more information on those varieties, visit https://www.bayercropscience.us/products/seeds/stoneville-cotton.