How might the new Bollgard 3 cotton work out on your acreage? Very well if precedent holds.
Among the next generation of traits Monsanto has put out, Bollgard 3 is one Croplan was eager to have in its bag. Croplan “accesses genetics from many places with Monsanto being one of the main ones,” says Robert Cossar, cotton product manager for Croplan seed. “Bollgard 3 is a new technology we’re excited to bring to the market.
The new varieties combine three modes of action for both weeds and pest control. “The Bollgard 3 with Xtend Flex technology gives us a really good platform for the cotton farmer.
“This is something bringing growers brand new with best-of-class germplasm but also with traits bringing season-long control of pests,” says Cossar. “This started several years ago with the (original) Bollgard, which ran out of life cycle. Then, Bollgard II came on with two modes of action with very good proteins, very good efficacy on bollworm control.”
Even so, “we knew there needed to be another mode of action long-term with the ‘cry’ proteins (Cry1Ac and Cry2Ab) taking so much pressure. Monsanto has been doing research on the new proteins for several years. They brought in the Vip3A trait from Syngenta and put it in the cotton.”
What that means is “we have vegetative insecticidal protein 3A genes in the cotton in additional to the Cry proteins. That provides a new mode of action. Cry proteins are excellent, but they tend to have a similar receptor site in the mid-gut of the worm. Now, we don’t have to worry so much about resistance issues because there’s the new protein. This will allow growers an ability to steward this technology long-term while keeping the cry (proteins) in the marketplace for the foreseeable future.”
Right on time
In 2017, for the first time “we had some major issues with Bollgard II. Last year, there was a huge flight of moths and egg lay and we started seeing issues. There were a lot of growers who had to spray for bollworms — $18 to $20 per acre can really cut into your profits.”
The introduction of Bollgard 3 this year “came at just the right time,” says Cossar. Without it in 2018 and 2019, “the pressure on Bollgard II would have been tremendous and might have wrecked the technology and allowed the insects around the protein.”
Another aspect of the story to consider “is breeders have been able to keep up and push the envelope as far as yield and fiber quality. The growers we talk to on a daily basis are also excited about the germplasm coming. We’re at staples of 38 and 39, which five years ago we thought was impossible. Those numbers now seem to be the new norm.”
Any advice to cotton producers looking to try Bollgard 3?
“It isn’t anything different from what we’re doing today. The first 30 or 40 days are still the most important of a cotton plant’s life. We need to get the plant started right — a good seed treatment, planting at proper depth, planting into good moisture. All those factors are still critical.
“Now, when we get into egg lays, I’m recommending to my growers that they continue to scout the Bollgard 3 fields and monitor the situation. This isn’t something where you can say, ‘Plant it and walk away for the season.’ We cannot allow this technology under the same pressure we have in the past.
“So, scout weekly looking for eggs and moth flights, the size of worms. If we see eggs, we’ll probably allow them to go ahead and hatch and get to the second instar. Once they’re feeding and ingesting the protein, they’ll die.”
Seeing the second instar is when concerns come. “If you see two or three worms at the second or third instar, on 100 terminals that’s a worry. In those situations, we may need to spray — I’ll never say we don’t have to spray Bollgard 3. If there’s a massive flight like we’ve seen in past years and worms are overwhelming the crops, it may need a spray. But I don’t see that happening anytime soon. The technology is sound, the new technology should clean up a lot of worms that would have probably escaped in 2017.”
What about seed availability?
Seed is limited this year, says Cossar. There are three Bollgard 3 varieties in the Croplan bag.
- Croplan 9178 Bollgard 3 Flex. “This is an early variety that will fit the northern Cotton Belt — northern Mississippi, northern Alabama, Tennessee, the Bootheel.
- Croplan 9608 Bollgard 3 Xtend Flex. “This is a true mid-variety. We had it in OBTs this year and it did excellent from south Texas up to the Mid-South cotton belt and over to the East Coast.”
- Croplan 9598. “This is a later mid-variety that fits the rolling plains of Texas and Oklahoma.
“We have a very aggressive production plan for the 2019 seed supply. Growers are asking for it and we’ll provide that.”