When cottonseed companies start mapping out goals and ambitions for the varieties they'll release in the future they have to consider what growers in the world's largest cotton patch need.
Cotton still rules the roost in the Texas High Plains and is high on the pecking order in nearby Oklahoma and New Mexico. And it's growing in importance in Kansas, as farmers there look for a viable crop to rotate with grain.
Cotton breeders cite improved fiber characteristics as a critical goal for new varieties and with one of the worst droughts in history still fresh on farmers' memories, drought tolerance ranks high as well.
Seed companies continue to explore transgenic technology to put more of a farmer's weed, disease and insect control inside the seed to reduce the need for chemical applications.
Even with an unquestioned need for drought tolerance, better fiber quality and improved traits, the farmer's bottom line remains pounds per acre, so breeders remain committed to high yields in all varieties they release. So, what are individual companies planning for Southwestern cotton growers?
American Cotton Breeders
Terry Campbell, general manager for American Cotton Breeders Inc., says production still pays the bills on Southwestern farms. “Americot is supplying Southwest cotton growers with products that provide high yield potential and excellent fiber quality in the technologies they need, including Bollgard II and Roundup Ready Flex,” Campbell says. “For growers who need only excellent weed control technology, we offer single gene Roundup Ready Flex products.
“We're excited about the stripper and picker products we're offering cotton growers, and are even more excited about what we'll offer them in the future. High yield potential remains the leading objective of our products, but we're also screening lines with even higher fiber quality. Additionally, we want to provide products with other traits, including drought tolerance and increased insect and disease resistance.”
Delta and Pine Land Company is committed to developing cotton varieties well adapted for the southwestern cotton-production regions.
“D&PL utilizes its two breeding and research programs in Texas — one in the High Plains at Hale Center, and another in the Rolling Plains at Haskell — to develop varieties that offer top-end yield and fiber quality potential for Texas and all of the Southwest,” says Dave Albers, vice president of technical services at D&PL.
“We also test broadly in the southwest germplasm from the other U.S. and global D&PL breeding programs to identify desired growth and yield characteristics for the region. D&PL is working with new technologies, including an insect-control trait and herbicide-tolerant trait that could positively affect cotton variety development for the Southwest.”
PhytoGen focuses on technology to improve yield, quality characteristics and resistance.
“PhytoGen brand cottonseed varieties are developed from one of the industry's most stringent research, breeding and development programs,” says Duane Canfield, marketing specialist for PhytoGen brand cottonseed and WideStrike Insect Protection at Dow AgroSciences.
“Our advanced breeding program gives us the unique ability to bring our leading Pima and Acala cotton quality characteristics to growers of upland varieties.
“Our varieties featuring proprietary germplasm offer high yield potential, and most are available with the most advanced in-plant trait technology — two-gene WideStrike Insect Protection, Roundup Ready and Roundup Ready Flex,” Canfield says.
“In the near future, PhytoGen brand cottonseed varieties will include additional in-plant insect-and disease-resistance or tolerance technologies, specialty fibers and more. We are offering growers innovative choices that lead to impressive results in the field and at the gin.”
“Here at All-Tex We are excited about the next several years,” says Cody Poage, manager at All-Tex Seed/Levelland Delinting Inc., at Leveland, Texas.
“We have a full pipeline of new Flex varieties and Bollgard II Flex varieties. We also have hired Charlie Cook to run our new facility in Victoria, a greenhouse in Monte Alto and nursery in Weslaco. Scott Brown will still run the Levelland location. These changes allow us to develop more varieties for a larger market at a faster pace than ever before.”
Jeff Brehmer, FiberMax marketing manager, says that FiberMax cottonseed varieties will continue to focus on the needs of Southwest cotton producers.
“FiberMax varieties currently have great fiber quality,” he says, “but future varieties will be even better than what we have today. They will be even more adapted to Southwest growing conditions, and they will exceed current yields while maintaining or exceeding current fiber quality.”