With a new tool available, he says farmers across the Blacklands may be able to add cotton to what has become a corn monoculture.

Minzenmayer says farmers in the Rolling Plains may be able to plant cotton more often on the best irrigated land. “Most do not have enough water to grow corn with only 12 inches to 14 inches of irrigation. But, under normal conditions, they can make a good cotton crop with that much irrigation. Still, rotation will help.”

Isakeit says Topguard wasn’t a fungicide he would have predicted to play a role in cotton root rot control. “I was hoping to find control in one of the newer chemicals,” he says. “Those would be easier to label. Topguard is an older chemical, used in other parts of the world since the 1980s. It was more recently brought into the United States to deal with soybean rust. It’s surprising, but if they hadn’t brought it in for soybeans, we wouldn’t have tested it on cotton.”

Minzenmayer says Extension will offer grower meetings to explain how to use Topguard. “Application is very specific,” he says. “Label calls for 16 ounces to 32 ounces applied in a 5- inch T-band.”

“This is a great breakthrough in controlling cotton root rot, which affects so many acres in the Southern Rolling Plains,” says Randall Conner, executive director, Southern Rolling Plains Cotton Growers Association, Inc. “We are very pleased to have Topguard approved for use this year.”

So is Wilde. He figures some 2,300 acres of his cotton land is affected by cotton root rot. “I’m excited. Doug, Matt, Rick and Tom are also excited,” he says. “They’ve done worlds of work to get this product labeled.”

The process took some unusual twists and turns, he says, to get to this point. “We started with drip tape, and the strong dose they used at first gave us the discovery. Now, we’re down to the label rate and this application method is better.”

He said Texas AgriLife technicians Pam Halfman and Corey Clark also worked hard to get the testing done and the data collected.

It’s been a long time coming, Wilde says. “But we are thankful.”