What is in this article?:
- W. Texas farmer likes new cotton variety.
- Likes flexibility of conventional cotton.
- Optimistic about making a crop despite dry start.
Yield and grade top priorities
Silhan says he looks for yield and grade when he evaluates cotton varieties for his farm. He produced 1,200 bags of UA 48 seed and hopes to plant more this year. “I’m not sure what will be available,” he says.
He’s pleased about a high-quality conventional cotton. “I planted 100 percent conventional varieties last year. Overall, the crop did well,” he says. “We made better than a bale per acre on dryland and from 1.5 to 3.9 bales per acre on irrigated fields.”
Highest production came from drip irrigation. He has 450 acres in drip and may add another 30 or 40. But he’s not sold on drip systems. “We can make more cotton but we don’t really save water,” he says.
Most of his irrigated land is under pivots with about 30 acres in side-row irrigation.
He’s not totally committed to conventional varieties and says technology will be part of his program from time to time. “Technology is wonderful,” he says. “It’s amazing what we’re capable of as science progresses and we’ve only scratched the surface.”
He says improved technology is simply “duplicating what God’s already done. He’s just given us the ability. Varieties will get better and better.”
Conventional varieties require a bit more management than transgenic cotton, Silhan admits. But he likes the flexibility he gets by having good conventional varieties available.
“But we have to lean on our own experience to manage conventional cotton and not rely solely on technology. We have to be more diligent scouting for insect pests,” he says. “But that’s not a big deal. I haven’t sprayed for worms or other pests except on a limited basis in four or five years.”
Weed control is a bit different as well. “We have a lot of good herbicides available that a lot of farmers have forgotten about. If we make early applications we have no problems.”
He uses a yellow herbicide and then Direx banded behind the planter. He applies Select post emergence for Johnsongrass and Caparol with a hooded sprayer as a layby treatment.
Keeping that seed block clean was imperative. “We also spent about $7 an acre across the board to chop cotton,” he says. “Finding and managing help is the hard part.”
The seed block also was rogued three times to preserve variety integrity. “They pulled out tall plants and some okra-leaf plants. They also pulled cocklebur as they rogued the field.”
Silhan typically rotates cotton with wheat, peanuts or grain sorghum. He is not planting peanuts this year because of rotation limits. He’ll plant about 5,000 acres of cotton.
“I’m not sure if I’ll plant 100 percent conventional or not,” he says.
Silhan was pleased with the results from UA 48 and says it “sets a new fiber standard for upland cotton lines. Uniformity was really good, as high as 87 percent in some areas and with staple as high as 41 in several bales.”