For cotton growers in the Southwest, selecting a variety is more than just picking a high-yielder with top fiber quality. They need varieties that match their water-management needs and help fight weeds and diseases, too.
“In addition to high yield potential and excellent fiber quality, growers want Verticillium wilt tolerance, which definitely impacts yield up here,” says Bob Glodt, president of Agri-Search Inc., in Plainview, Texas.
Such information to assist growers in making variety decision is available at FiberMax.com.
“Growers south of Lubbock also look for nematode tolerance,” says Glodt, who works with a number of growers and seed companies in the High Plains. “All growers need to consider a variety’s yield potential based on its ability to respond to water.”
Some cotton varieties perform better at the lower end of irrigation while others respond well to heavy irrigation. “For example, if you have the ability to only apply 30 percent of evapotranspiration (ET), you need a variety that performs well in that range,” he says. “There’s no need to consider one at 90 percent ET unless you can water that much or you expect to get the rainfall.”
Conversely, cotton varieties on the lower end of the range may not have the ability to respond to water even with rain. “It wasn’t until I started doing variety testing in relationship to water management that I realized some varieties are very flat responding to water; some make a set amount at 30 percent of ET; and at 60 percent they wouldn’t make that much more.”
One thing growers need to consider in variety selection is disease pressure, says Bayer® agronomist Tim Culpepper. “With the root-knot nematode and Verticillium wilt issues we have on the northern High Plains, we need to consider planting disease tolerant varieties,” he says.
Growers with heavy Verticillium wilt pressure typically plant three or four tolerant varieties. FM 1830GLT and FM 2334GLT are two Bayer varieties with excellent Verticillium wilt tolerance. These FiberMax® varieties have GlyTol® LibertyLink® TwinLink® technology. GlyTol allows for glyphosate herbicide over the top, and the LibertyLink technology allows Liberty herbicide to control glyphosate-resistant pigweeds. TwinLink technology affords protection from a number of worm pests.
“Another variety with very good tolerance to Verticillium wilt and GlyTol LibertyLink is FM 2322GL,” Culpepper says. “FM 2011GT, a GlyTol glyphosate-tolerant variety, performs well in fields with Verticillium wilt pressure.”
Two root-knot nematode tolerant varieties for Culpepper’s area are Stoneville® ST 4946GLB2 and FM 2011GT.
And now, Texas cotton growers must deal with glyphosate-resistant weeds.
“For the last two years, FM 1830GLT has produced high yields and a very high fiber quality —length, strength and micronaire are in the premium range or loan value of 55 to 58 cents.”
Growers with limited irrigation capacity or dryland production should consider varieties like ST 4946GLB2, FM 2011GT and FM 2322GL.
Growers also need to consider the soil composition in each of their fields when they choose their cotton variety. In eastern Texas, for example, soils can vary from sandy to clay or a mix of both, according to Heath Reeves, Bayer agronomist in the region.
“What we refer to around here as hot ground has a higher sand content. You wouldn’t want to plant some of the premium varieties on that soil type; you might want to consider a workhorse-type variety on those sandier soils. One variety that fits that description is Stoneville ST 4946GLB2, which is a very adaptable variety,” Reeves says.
As planning starts for 2016, factor in the changing cotton production landscape across the Southwest when growers select a cotton variety.
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