Despite disastrous late-season environmental conditions throughout much of the Mid-South in 2001, cotton farmers shouldn't have a problem finding plenty of high quality cottonseed in 2002.

Extended periods of high humidity levels and heavy rainfall throughout August and early September 2001 caused boll rot, hard-lock and cottonseed that germinated in the boll, all of which translated into a disaster for many Delta cotton farmers. It also could have meant a shortage of high quality cottonseed for the 2002 season.

However, most of the major cottonseed suppliers hedged their bets by spreading their seed production acreage across the cotton belt, diminishing the effects of adverse weather conditions in any one region.

“Our Mid-South seed supply was devastated, not unlike any other seed company that's growing seed production in the Mid-South,” says Danny Rogers, national marketing manager for Stoneville Pedigreed Seed in Memphis. “We unfortunately had to turn much of our Delta seed production away because the quality wasn't there. We might have brought in 10 percent of what we grew in the Mid-South.”

Fortunately, however, Stoneville shifted a large portion of its seed production out of the Mid-South in 2001 and into Texas, Arizona and California. “We are very fortunate that we made that move,” Rogers says.

“The bottom line is that we've got a good supply of high quality seed even factoring in our Mid-South losses. In fact, we've got good upside ability on almost every variety we're selling,” he says.

“The only variety that we may be a little bit tight on, depending on demand, is ST4793R. We've got a good supply of that seed, we just don't fully understand what demand will be in 2002.”

Jim Willeke, vice president of sales and marketing with Delta and Pine Land Company in Scott, Miss., says, “I'd like to alleviate any concerns growers may have about seed supply in 2002. We have an excellent inventory of very high quality seed, as well as very good inventories of key products across the company's entire cottonseed product line.

“In fact, the overall quality of our cottonseed in 2002 is better than it was in 2001. We are raising significant quantities of seed in four major production areas, and in 2001, we had the best seed production year we've had in 10 years in our locations, both in Texas and in the Southwest.”

According to Willeke, Delta and Pine Land increased its production of several popular cottonseed varieties, including PM1218, DP451, DP458 and SG215BR, in anticipation of the 2002 crop season. The company also has two new cottonseed releases — DP491 and DP555BGRR — that will be available in limited supply in 2002.

According to Lee Rivenbark with Aventis, that company has already received, and filled, substantial orders for 2002 for FiberMax cottonseed varieties 958, 966, 832B and 989BR. “Even after filling the orders to date, we still have a very solid supply of most of our varieties.”

In the Southeast, Rivenbark says FiberMax may run into a shortage of 989RR and 991RR. The reason for the shortage of the two varieties, he says, is that a March 2001 Roundup Ready agreement with Monsanto didn't give Aventis adequate time to produce a large quantity of seed in time for the 2002 crop season.

“We had to get that seed form our Australian partner company,” he says. We bought all that they had, but their seed was in short supply. All of our 2003 seed will be grown in 2002 in the United States.”

In the Southwest, Rivenbark says that 989RR is the only variety they expect could run short in 2002. “At this point, we've filled all of our south Texas seed orders with the exception of 989RR.”

To avoid missing out on the seed you most want in 2002, Rivenbark recommends growers book what they need for 2002 as soon as possible.

Bobby Haygood with Dow Agrosciences, which produces Phytogen cottonseed, says indications are that they too will have a good supply of high quality cottonseed in 2002.

All three of the company's conventional cottonseed varieties are produced in west Texas.

“We hope to go to 100 percent certified seed in the future because it helps us ensure our customers are receiving seed with 100 percent genetic purity,” Haygood says. “As a smaller company, we have the flexibility to go through the certification process required to offer certified seed.”

dmuzzi@primediabusiness.com