Do your homework.That admonition is the bane of every school child, the mantra of every involved parent.

It's also a crucial factor in selecting the right cotton varieties for the High Plains.

“Doing your homework is extremely important when choosing a variety,” says Randy Boman, Extension cotton agronomist at Lubbock.

Boman says producers have many more options available for cottonseed than was the case just a few years ago. Roundup Ready, Bollgard, BXN, and the list goes on.

The High Plains also faces the challenge of raising the bar on cotton quality.

Consumption of cotton by U.S. textile mills has dropped by 4 million bales since 1997; therefore, the United States must export more cotton to offset the decline. Mills want high quality fiber.

At the same time, high yields remain important.

At the recent 2003 Southwest Crops Production Conference in Lubbock Boman presented variety trial research, factoring in yield, seed and lint value and such costs as seed, technology fees, ginning costs, etc.

His studies came from three sites, each with different growing conditions and weather factors during the 2002 crop season.

A research plot at Muleshoe, Texas, planted May 4, 2002, had some early season difficulties, and Boman could not harvest before early October rains.

Plot winner was FiberMax 958 from Bayer Crop Science. The net loan value after subtracting systems costs and ginning costs per acre was $895.81, yielding 1,850 pounds of lint per acre. Systems costs included any variable costs associated with each variety such as seed, tech fees, herbicide applications, hoeing, cultivations, insecticides for bollworm control, etc.

Paymaster 2326RR came in with 1760 lint pounds per acre and at $857.40 net value per acre; Paymaster 2266RR produced 1704 pounds lint per acre and $825.40 net value per acre. Paymaster 2344BGRR produced 1696 pounds lint per acre and $814.69 net value per acre.

Researchers planted a second plot at Tokio, Texas, in Yoakum County May 9. Boman said this region had good growing conditions and adequate irrigation.

FiberMax 989 produced 1495 pounds lint per acre and had the highest net value at $732.63 per acre.

Deltapine 555B/RR had the highest yield at 1585 pounds per acre and pulled in $723.83 per acre net value. FiberMax 989BR produced 1515 pounds per acre and brought $694.48 per acre after ginning and systems costs.

The test plot at Cone, Texas, in Crosby County was planted May 7. Boman said they fought sand but harvested before October rains.

FiberMax 966 made 718 pounds per acre and had the highest net value at $351.80 per acre.

Associated Farmers Delinting's Raider 271 produced 677 pounds per acre and had a net value at $331.67 per acre while FiberMax 958 made 678 pounds per acre and $331.40 per acre net value.

Boman suggests producers research the varieties, including field trials, to see which ones best suits their needs.

“Check fiber quality and yield potential, and don't plant the whole farm to just one variety,” he said. Multi-year performance is also very critical, and producers should keep in mind that the High Plains region has been experiencing a warming trend for the last several years.

A major concern is what kinds of yields and discounts the longer season varieties, which have been recently introduced, might get in a shorter season environment.

Boman recommended that producers read unbiased information and take a look at the Texas A&M Research and Extension Research Center at Lubbock's website at http://lubbock.tamu.edu, where much more cotton production and variety information is available.