Bio-engineered fibers from Bayer are targeting changing the polarity of the cotton fibers. This would make it easier to dye cottons with less dye. It would make the dyeing process in the mill “more environmentally friendly“ with fewer chemicals needed.

Many of Dow AgroSciences Phytogen cotton varieties already have Roundup Flex traits. Joel Faircloth, Phytogen cotton development specialist, said his company will attack the growing glyphosate resistance problem with a 2,4-D gene trait in new Phytogen cottons. It will be stacked with the Roundup Flex gene as well as a glufosinate-resistant gene, giving some Phytogen cotton resistance to three different post emergence cotton herbicides.

Dow AgroSciences has applied for a federal registration for the new 2, 4-D formulation to reduce volatility, odor and drift potential.

“This is very exciting new technology,” he said.

It will be commercialized for corn in 2013; soybeans in 2015; and cotton in 2015 or 2016, according to Faircloth.

Dow AgroSciences is also developing new Phytogen varieties with WideStrike III technology and Syngenta’s Vip3A protein for insect control.

Faircloth said Phytogen has “a lot of new varieties in pipeline” that will continue bring Acala fiber quality into the upland market. Phytogen is the only major seed company in the San Joaquin Valley where Acala cotton is now grown.

Monsanto is hanging its hat on dicamba and glufosinate for its strategy to control glyphosate-resistant weeds, according Vaughn. It will be four or five years before the three-way mix will be deregulated, estimated Vaughn.

Vaughn admitted diacamba has a bad reputation for drift, and Monsanto is working with BASF to develop a new formulation to reduce offsite movement of the post emergence herbicide.

Monsanto is also ramping up its nematode resistance breeding program in the wake of the loss of Temik.

“We have been working for several years on reniform and root-knot nematode resistance and are getting closer in the development stage,” he said.

Vaughn admitted the development of Bollgard III technology is “a little bit redundant,” but he defended its introduction by saying it broadens the lepidopterous pest control spectrum, particularly late season worms like fall armyworms.

Bollard III also “extends the durability” of Monsanto’s Bt technology franchise and will help avoid insect resistance.

With the control of worm pests using Bt, plant bugs/lygus have emerged as major cotton pests. Vaughn said Cotton Belt entomologists are working on new ways to measure thresholds to hopefully reduce sprays. “The biotech solution to plant bug control is in the future,” said Vaughn. However, he did say early development had produced a 10 percent reduction in boll drop. For now, however, growers will continue to rely on chemistry to control plant bugs.

Stress tolerance to bolster water-use efficient cotton is also a goal of Monsanto’s biotech efforts. He expects Monsanto to have a biotech stress solution for the dryland corn market in the next few years. From that, cotton can piggyback on the technology to reduce cotton’s water use.

hcline@farmpress.com