After Delta High Cotton award winner Bruce Bond and Ashley County (Ark.) Extension agent Kenneth Williams discovered root-knot nematodes in one of Bond's cotton fields in the early 1990s, they tried a number of methods to control or reduce populations of the pest.

Results were inconsistent until Bond acquired equipment to fit on his ripper/hipper that would apply the fumigant Telone II.

“We did our own trials, including putting some in conjunction with county variety trials,” Bond said. “My consultant, Jim Jaggers, and I also put in 16-row plots in different places around the farm. I put Telone on one field that was almost pure sand.”

The following August, “the Telone cotton in the sandy field was a foot taller and those spots yielded much higher than those that didn't have Telone. One spot had 200 more pounds of lint. The Telone plots in the variety trials had 140 pounds more lint.”

In 2001, Terry Kirkpatrick, nematologist at the University of Arkansas, put in a three-year Telone study on Bond's farm, which included intensive nematode sampling.

Kirkpatrick eventually extended the program to four years and provided a yield monitor to Bond to help quantify the results. The scientific study confirmed Bond's early research with the fumigant, a 140-pound difference between nematode-infested fields with Telone and those without Telone.

Telone is an expensive option, noted Bond, but he addressed that problem this year with an experiment with variable-rate applications on about 17 acres.

The experiment reduced the gallonage of Telone applied on the 17 acres from 51 gallons to 20 gallons — going from a 3-gallon per acre blanket rate to a little over a gallon per acre average using a variable-rate applicator. Yield on the field was 1,600 pounds, according to Bond.

The experiment has piqued Bond's interest in the potential for variable-rate applications for other inputs.

“Next year, we're going to look at some fields with InTime, Inc. A local ag pilot rigged up to put out variable-rate materials. With a yield monitor map and the InTime image, we're going to be able to pinpoint some things.”

According to Williams, Bond's test demonstrations with Telone led to 15,000 acres of Ashley County cotton land being treated for root-knot nematodes, with an average lint increase on these fields of 150 pounds.

e-mail: erobinson@primediabusiness.com