Now that Roundup Ready Flex technology cotton has been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a Texas Cooperative Extension cotton specialist expects new varieties to begin entering the marketplace.

Randy Boman, speaking at the Farm and Ranch Management Symposium during the Amarillo Farm and Ranch Show, said as many as 55 new entries of cotton were tested at multiple locations by John Gannaway, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station cotton breeder. A large seed supply for many of the varieties is anticipated for launch in 2006.

With these new varieties and technology, producers need to be vigilant in seed selection, studying performance through demonstration plots and university data, before diving in, Boman said.

Look at the yield potential of a variety, but also consider adaptability, fiber quality (staple, micronaire, strength and uniformity), boll type (storm resistance) and disease and nematode tolerance, Boman advised.

High fiber quality alone can mean an extra $100 per acre for a producer from a field with a two-bale yield, he said.

“Don’t bet the farm on one variety,” Boman warned. “Plant two or more varieties to spread the risk.”

Newer producers also need to be aware of herbicide concerns when it comes to treating weeds in these new varieties of cotton, as well as traditional cotton, he said.

The new technology-based cottons such as Roundup Ready and Liberty Link refer to the type of herbicide that can be used to treat weeds. Roundup Ready cotton can be treated with the herbicides containing glyphosate, which are sold under a number of trade names. Liberty Link cottons can be treated with herbicides containing glufosinate, such as Ignite.

The two don’t mix, Boman said. Small droplets of Roundup can physically blow onto Liberty Link and conventional fields, and Ignite treatments can physically drip to Roundup Ready and conventional fields and can cause damage, he said.

Tank contamination also can sneak up on a producer, he said. Roundup and Ignite will pull any 2,4-D remnants from a tank and hoses, and the producer will set his own cotton back.

“Keep flawless records as to where your Roundup Ready, Liberty Link and conventional varieties are located, and make sure you apply the correct over-the-top herbicide to your field” Boman said. “Do not use a sprayer that has been contaminated with 2,4-D or other cotton-damaging herbicides for over-the-top treatments.”

More cotton information is available through county Extension agents or on the Lubbock Center Web site: http://lubbock.tamu.edu, he said. Also, each Extension agent and gin manager has a copy of the Western Region Cotton Resource CD-ROM, which contains more information.

Monti Vandiver, Extension integrated pest management agent in Bailey and Parmer counties, discussed another type of treatment with producers – insect management.

Vandiver recommended growers start the season with an integrated pest management plan.

Understand that foliar insecticides have to be applied in a timely manner, without skimping, because good coverage is essential to insect management, he said.

For producers using Bt cultivars, keep an eye on what is happening in the field, Vandiver advised. Do not plant the field and then walk away and not worry about the worms.

And finally, he said, don’t worry about protecting late bolls, which have little chance to mature, because it is not economical.