Research findings from an extensive grower trial with Roundup Ready Flex cotton in 2005 show that Monsanto’s newest technology can save cotton growers considerable time and increase their efficiency, in addition to providing improved weed control flexibility, compared with Roundup Ready cotton.
The research involved 160 growers across the Cotton Belt, each of whom planted between 20 and 40 acres of Bollgard II with Roundup Ready Flex cotton this past season. Field plots were monitored closely throughout the season by not only the participating farmers, but also by leading cotton consultants, university specialists and Monsanto technical development personnel.
Among the study’s findings: The Roundup Ready Flex System saved growers 1.9 minutes per acre compared with Roundup Ready cotton (5.4 minutes versus 7.3 minutes). This translates into a 26 percent time saving which, if extrapolated out for 2,000 acres, would mean a time savings of 63 hours in a year.
“These numbers only tell part of the story,” says Shea Murdock, Roundup Ready Flex technical manager for Monsanto. “All the technology benefits will probably not be realized until it is used across much larger fields than the 20- to 40-acre trials on which these data are based.”
In addition to the efficiency and time savings, the grower trial research also showed some cost savings to the farmer when Roundup Ready Flex cotton is grown. “There are lower application costs past the fourth-leaf stage that are realized by being able to spray over-the-top versus using a hooded sprayer,” Murdock explains. “And, in some of the locations, there were fewer trips over the field due to the ability to tank-mix Roundup agricultural herbicide with other crop protection chemicals, including insecticides, growth regulators and fertilizers.”
According to Murdock, there also was no need in many cases for growers to apply insecticides for worm control due to the in-plant protection offered by the Bollgard II trait.
Murdock adds that Roundup Ready Flex cotton is one of the most widely tested cotton technologies ever to be commercialized, having been tested extensively at all major land-grant universities in the Cotton Belt since the 2001 growing season.
The new cotton varieties that will carry the Roundup Ready Flex trait in 2006 were tested in the Monsanto field trials and include offerings from most major cottonseed companies, including Stoneville, Delta and Pine Land, Beltwide Cotton Genetics and FiberMax. Roundup Ready Flex will be available in more than 30 cottonseed varieties for 2006.
In addition, most of these new cotton varieties were tested in Official Variety Trials (OVT) in 2005 at major land-grant Cotton Belt universities, including University of Georgia, Auburn University, Mississippi State University, University of Arkansas, Louisiana State University, Texas A&M University, Clemson University, Florida State University, Virginia Tech, North Carolina State University, University of Missouri, University of Tennessee and Oklahoma State University. These state-specific OVT results are available at www.monsanto.com  (click on U.S. Agriculture).