Things change quickly in the cotton industry, especially with new varieties.
“Varieties launched just three years ago are being replaced with new germplasm,” says Jaime Yanes, Croplan Genetics. “Our latest technology is BollGard II and Roundup Ready Flex, and drought tolerance is a further down the road. The industry is constantly improving cotton germplasm and over the next few years we will see even better technology.”
Yanes says improved yield potential and better fiber quality continue to top cotton breeding priority lists. “The varieties we currently have in the market grade well and often in the premium range for micronaire, staple and strength,” he says. “Strength has to be around 28 or better. That’s the new standard.” He says Croplan Genetics has two new varieties available this year with strength ratings from 29 to 30,” with yield potential equal to anything currently on the market.
And yield remains excellent. “We have to maintain top yields with BollGard II and Roundup Ready Flex technology,” he says. “We have a new offering, our first proprietary variety, CG 3220B2RF, that is adapted across the Cotton Belt. It’s an early to mid maturity variety with premium fiber quality.”
He said strength rating ranges from 29 to 30 with excellent mic and staple.
He says CG 3520B2RF has been a consistent performer with good yields for the past three years.
Yanes says Croplan Genetics has varieties adapted to dryland production systems. “CG 3020B2RF, for instance, works best in light soils on dryland conditions. With highly managed conditions, it doesn’t do as well. ”
He says 3520B2RF works well in either dryland or irrigated fields, but 4020 needs more attention. “It does not do as well in real droughty soils and will need irrigation.”
Yanes says 3035RF “is an interesting variety. In OVT trials last year it out yielded (stacked) BG II and Roundup Ready Flex varieties.”
Conventional cottonseed varieties “will likely go by the wayside,” Yanes said. “We hear from growers that they want conventional cotton varieties, but they don’t buy them. Only a small percentage of U.S. cotton farmers are still using conventional varieties.”
He says most producers have found the convenience and improved performance of transgenic varieties worth the investment.
“Farmers face challenges as they prepare for the 2009 crop,” he says. “The high cost of fuel means many will make fewer trips across their fields. They are trying to get all their weeds with just two applications and they may delay that first Roundup spray and wait for weeds to emerge.”
Allowing that first flush of weeds to get started, however, will hamper yield potential. “Farmers still need to spray herbicides on a timely basis,” he says.
Yanes says the market will turn again. “Cotton acres are still down, but as cotton prices go up cotton will come back. It’s a short term decline.”