Cotton Production Tips

Match Choice To Fields When Selecting Cotton Variety

MidAmerica Farmer Grower

   Variety selection plays a key role in cotton production, according to Dr. Darrin Dodds, Mississippi State University extension cotton specialist. Dodds spoke on the issue recently at the Cotton Focus Meeting at the West Tennessee Research and Education Center in Jackson, Tenn.
   “When you think about variety selection in cotton production, selecting the right variety makes all the difference in the world when it comes to performance at the end of the day,” he said. “Historically we have not had a tremendous number of offerings like we do in corn and soybean crops; however, I do have to argue that we have a greater choice of better varieties in cotton today than we’ve ever had before.”

“All the difference in the world”, that’s what Dr. Darrin Dodds, Mississippi State University
extension cotton specialist discusses about the role of variety selection in cotton production.

Photo by John LaRose, Jr.

   There are more good varieties today for a number of different soil types and for a number of different management styles. One issue is varieties are turning over very, very quickly.
   “A lot of varieties if they don’t perform as well as folks would hope they fall by the wayside after two or three years and are replaced by another variety,” he said. “We run a lot of variety trials every year at Mississippi State, over 20 large plot variety trials in addition to small plot trials. All of the companies run variety trials, your dealers run trials, a lot of growers have their own trials, we have a tremendous amount of variety performance data. But the issue is you really have to look into that data to determine which are applicable to your situation whether that be irrigation type or whether or not you even have irrigation; whether you have a plant growth regulator management style, soil texture etc.
   “We have a tremendous amount of performance data but we really need to start focusing more on management of those varieties and where to properly place those varieties,” Dodds added. “Historically, with few varieties to choose from, it’s been easy to pick one or two and put them wherever you feel they fit best; but now we have 10 to 15 varieties that yield very well in a number of different circumstances. It’s important to put those varieties in the right place.”
   Putting the right variety in the right field and managing them properly involves looking at performance data, not just the one that yields the best all the time but the one that yields in the upper portion of the trial across a lot of different locations.
   “What I tell my folks are the one that wins in the coffee shop is not always the one that wins at the bank,” he said. “I think that’s a very important message to understand.”
   Another thing to look at when picking a variety is to study the complete package; that includes a variety and the performance contained within that variety.
   “You’re choosing a trait package whether you’re looking at a Bollgard II Roundup Ready flex; whether you picked a Widestrike Roundup Ready Flex, Glytol/Liberty Link or whatever the case may be,” Dodds suggested. “You’re also choosing a seed treatment package and the seed treatment package is becoming more and more important every day. We’ve had tremendous issues with thrips in the mid south for the last three years and it’s recently been observed that there may be some reduced susceptibility to tobacco thrips to thiamethoxam seed treatments.
   “For a lot of folks, seed treatments are an after thought. Depending on the brand of seed you choose to plant, the seed treatment can change.  For example, if you plant Stoneville cotton you will likely have Aeris/Trilex Advanced as a seed treatment.  Phytogen cotton varieties have historically been treated with Cruiser/Dynasty or Avicta complete; however, in 2014 Phytogen cotton will be available with Aeris/Trilex advanced due to the thrips issue.
   “DeltaPine cotton growers should keep an eye on seed treatments as they change depending on the designation on the bag of seed. Acceleron FI contains imidacloprid as an insecticide seed treatment whereas Acceleron N contains thiamethoxan as the insecticide seed treatment,” he added. “Because of the thrips issues we’re seeing, these seed treatments can impact variety performance and it’s going to become more and more important to understand what seed treatment you have. Then you need to optimize that seed treatment to give you the best control of problematic pests and give that variety the best chance to come out of the ground and yield well at the end of the year.” ∆
   BETTY VALLE GEGG-NAEGER: Senior Staff Writer, MidAmerica Farmer Grower
MidAmerica Farm Publications, Inc
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