Cotton producers will have a new defoliation option when they begin preparing their 2001 crop for harvest.

EPA has granted a Section 3 registration for the use of Aim, a corn and rice herbicide developed by FMC Corp., as a cotton harvest aid. FMC says it has begun distributing Aim in the principle cotton-growing states.

Company representatives believe Aim, which was discovered to have defoliation properties by accident several years ago, will help growers with the often difficult task of terminating their cotton crop in “several unique ways.”

“In general, Aim does three things to prepare cotton for harvest,” says Jamie Leifker, FMC's product manager for Aim, which was previously registered for use in corn and rice to control broadleaf weeds and winter annuals and mustards.

“First, it works fast to provide very good defoliation. And because it is less temperature-sensitive than competitive products, the performance holds up even in the cooler temperatures,” he noted.

“Next, Aim controls escaped broadleaf weeds such as morningglories, pigweed and hemp sesbania, which often cause problems for harvest equipment. Finally, Aim delivers excellent control of juvenile growth, preventing it from reducing lint grade due to trash and stain.”

A group of consultants and Extension specialists from the Mid-South and Texas were able to see field demonstrations with Aim at the Frank Krupala Research Farm at Raymondville, Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley earlier this summer.

Two fields at the Krupala Farm were treated with Aim and combinations of Aim and other harvest aid materials on July 5 and July 10 in preparation for harvest in mid- to late July.

Although drought conditions for most of the growing season had a disastrous impact on the south Texas crop, consultants and Extension specialists viewing the demonstration said Aim appeared to be working well — especially under the difficult environmental conditions.

“This is a brand new game for us,” said Tom Crumby, technical representative for FMC in Jackson, Miss. Crumby was referring to the fact that Aim is the first cotton harvest aid product to be marketed by the company.

“We have a lot to learn from you (the consultants and specialists), and we want to show you what we have learned about Aim.”

In the demonstrations, Aim was applied alone with a crop oil concentrate and in combination with Prep, Finish, Dropp, Ginstar, CottonQuik and Cyclone in single applications and followed by Aim and a crop oil concentrate. The standard rate for Aim will be two thirds ounce of product per acre.

According to the new label, Aim may be tank-mixed with other harvest aids such as ethephon or Prep for additional boll opening, or thiadiazuron products such as Dropp for increased defoliation and inhibition of regrowth.

“Most important of all, Aim is more economical than most products on the market,” said Leifker. “When used in combination with a boll-opening product like ethephon, Aim will be an effective and economical part of a total harvest aid program.”

“We are still trying to determine how we best fit in this new market for us,” said Tom Quade, district sales manager for FMC in Memphis

“We're not saying we're going to take the world by storm with this product,” said Crumby. “But we do feel that we have a good product that will help growers in these difficult, economic times we face.”