With the purchase of the NexGen brand of cotton seed, Americot Inc. became the third largest cotton seed company in the United States and the second largest in the Southwest. The company is now poised to flex its newly acquired muscle.

If the sale of NexGen to Americot goes forward as planned, the Lubbock, Texas-based company “will immediately have a larger footprint in the Southwest region,” says Terry Campbell, Americot general manager.

“As a brand, NexGen is currently well-received by Southwest farmers. The germplasm previously owned by Syngenta that D&PL is divesting will complement our current portfolio of products like AM 1532 B2RF (a Bollgard II/Roundup Ready Flex). Our plans are to aggressively incorporate BG II and RR Flex into that germplasm and determine the geographical fit for those products.”

The NexGen brand and additional germplasm are being divested by Monsanto to address competitive concerns raised by the U.S. Department of Justice in connection with Monsanto's acquisition of Delta and Pine Land Company. The germplasm assets include the germplasm Monsanto had in its pipeline for the NexGen brand as well as certain germplasm from Delta and Pine Land.

“A real positive in this deal is that we'll have the freedom to stack anyone's technologies with Monsanto's,” said Campbell, speaking at a media event in Leachville, Ark. “The companies that own those technologies will have to grant us permission. But if Monsanto's BG II, BG III, a new Roundup-enhanced gene and some other technology would make a good combination with another developer's technology, we can develop it.”

Americot also announced a new cotton variety for the 2008 season — AM 1550B2RF, described by Campbell as having “outstanding yield potential.” It is targeted for the north Mississippi Delta growers.

According to Dale Logan, Americot territory manager for the Mid-South and Southeast, the variety has performed well from Clarksdale north “and has the potential to be a yielding machine. The variety has been in breeder trials in 46 locations for the last two years and it finished as the No. 1 yielder in Tennessee, north Arkansas and Missouri, averaging 1,400 pounds per acre.”

The Bollgard II/Roundup Ready Flex cotton is a bit later in maturity than AM 1532 B2RF, and it is a semi-smooth leaf cotton. Its average staple length is 35.6; strength, 27.5; and micronaire, 4.5.

In addition, Americot expanded testing of AM 1550 B2RF in four states across the South. Twenty-acre plots are located in Tennessee, Missouri, northeast Arkansas and North Carolina.

According to Logan, Americot is evaluating several experimental lines this season and could introduce one or two more products in 2008 targeted for the United States. He says germplasm that Americot recently acquired from Delta and Pine Land will be used to develop new cotton products for the Mid-South, Southeast and Southwest regions.

Americot is also looking into developing cotton varieties with cold tolerance, according to Americot breeder David Bush. “Farmers like to plant early and they're always pushing the envelope. We're selecting for cold tolerance, and we want to put that in all our varieties.”

Americot was founded in 1987 by Bush and Sid Stephens. Its original purpose was to breed regionally adapted conventional cotton varieties in northeast Arkansas. The company received the last research agreement for cotton granted by Monsanto in 2000. Americot sold its first Roundup Ready varieties in 2003 and introduced Bollgard II, Roundup Ready Flex varieties in 2005.