If Eric Silhan had know the 15 bags of seed-block cotton he was planting last year were the only 15 bags in the country he might have done things a little differently.

Or maybe not.

Turns out that the 70 acres of UA 48, a new conventional cotton variety developed by University of Arkansas cotton breeder Fred Bourland, performed well on Silhan’s worst Verticillium wilt field. An early June planting date also showed the conventional variety’s ability to mature quickly.

Silhan, who farms in Cochran County, Texas, near Morton, says when Brian Kindle of West Gaines Seed and Delinting asked if he would like to plant a seed block for a new conventional variety he “jumped on it. I wanted to be a part of it,” he says.

The variety, which is part of the Cotton Incorporated agricultural research effort, was bred for Verticillium wilt resistance. “I planted it on my worst Verticillium wilt ground,” Silhan says. “I didn’t know at the time that this was the only 15 bags of seed in the country. When I realized that it was the only seed available, I got a little nervous. And when a hail storm came through in October, I worried a little.”

The block came through. “We made 143 bales from 70 acres,” Silhan says. “We planted it under a half-circle.”

The grades, however, were what impressed him the most—39.12 staple, 35.69 strength, 4.41 micronaire and 82.41 uniformity. Loan rate averaged 57 cents per pound. Turnout was 34 percent.

“We had about 17 bales of bark cotton that brought the loan down. I’ve never grown a variety that graded overall as well as this did. And I’ve made some good loan cotton before.”

He says the cotton showed some signs of Verticillium wilt but “it never destroyed the plant. Cotton kept producing more leaves and produced fruit. It never stopped fruiting. It acted like I’ve never seen cotton act with Verticillium wilt. It just kept on fruiting and putting on bolls. I think it’s highly tolerant of Verticillium wilt,” a disease he fears is becoming more of a problem.

He planted the UA 48 block June 2 and harvested on November 15. “It was the first cotton we stripped,” he recalls. “It matured quickly.”

He used Prep and Def and then Aim to get ready for harvest. “But it matured so quickly we may not have needed the Prep and Def. We possibly could have used just one shot of Prep and Aim. But we wanted it clean.”