Farmers and industry representatives enjoyed a serving of rising cotton yields, fiber quality issues in the Southeast and the impact of 2004 West Texas weather on seed supply along with their coffee at the Emergent Genetics' breakfast during the Beltwide Cotton Conferences.
A Texas grower, a Mid-South consultant, Georgia's cotton specialist and Emergent Genetics personnel made up the panel to discuss Stoneville cotton's current commercial varieties as well as the seed company's 2005 products.
Mike Tyler, who farms near Lemesa, Texas, experienced "tremendous yields" with ST 5599BR and ST 4646B2R cotton varieties on irrigated fields.
I've been farming irrigated cotton for 22 years in the West Texas area, and I attribute our yield increases to these new varieties," Tyler says. "The 5599 usually yields higher than 4646 for me, but I've been real tickled with the performance of both of these varieties. Most of the cotton in our area is stripper, but I have picked some of the 5599 and the 4646.
Although yields were down in West Texas last year due to the rain and cool weather in July and August and on through September, Tyler still reported high yields on the plots that he kept separate and kept very accurate records on.
"I produced.1,457 pounds per acre with ST 4646B2R," he says. "On July 4, the 4646 received some pretty bad hail, resulting in a 30% to 40 % loss so I thought it produced pretty well. The total value per acre on this particular farm was $712 per acre."
Tyler said the ST 5599 BR produced 1,724 pounds per acre for a total value per acre of $872.
Kenny Melton, Emergent Genetic's tech service agronomist for the Southwest, told attendees about two new varieties that would be available for area growers this year.
The first is a new stripper variety--ST 3664R.
"This medium maturity variety produces a very good stormproof boll," Melton says. It has high yield potential and excellent early season vigor. 3664 is particularly suited for the Southern High Plains, Rolling Plains and Southwest Oklahoma."
Melton noted that there will be a limited seed supply of ST 3664R in 2005.
Emergent Genetics also is introducing NG 3969R--a new medium maturity, smooth leaf NexGen variety. NexGen is the company's branding for a stormproof, high quality fiber.
"NG 3969R produces excellent fiber quality and a highly stormproof boll," Melton says. "It's also suited for the Southern High Plains, Rolling Plains and Southwest Oklahoma. Seed supplies will be limited in 2005."
Last year, Emergent Genetics introduced two NexGen varieties in limited quantities--NG 1553R and NG 2448R--that targeted the High Plains, the Panhandle and the Kansas areas.
"We had planned a very large launch of NexGen varieties in 2005, but lost much of our seed production because of bad weather in West Texas," says Danny Rogers, director U.S. marketing for Emergent Genetics. "However, the seed we will market this year will be very high quality."
David Hydrick, a cotton consultant in Northeast Arkansas, described his experience with ST 5599 BR and ST 5242 BR.
"My area is primarily a 'Stoneville' area," Hydrick says, "and 5599 is the highest yielding cotton I've ever seen. In some cases we picked 1,600 pounds per acre last year."
Hydrick said the variety also is a good fit because of the high numbers of root-knot nematodes his growers experience.
"If you need a good stalk, grow 5599," he says. "In most cases, a 750-pound field will go to 1,300 pounds."
Hydrick also advocates a low seed population--about 15,000 plants per acre.
In 2004, the consultant planted four fields to ST 5242 BR. All four yielded in the 1,400-pound range.
"The biggest advantage to 5242 is that it fights off verticillium wilt real well," Hydrick says. "It fruits up slowly so it's not that showy until it starts setting bolls. Then it's a beautiful cotton.
"These new Stoneville varieties have me excited about growing cotton again," he adds. "The yields are there and the quality is there."
Andy White, tech service agronomist for the Mid-South, added that the Emergent Genetics' variety that shows the most consistent performance against DP 555 BGRR is ST 5599BR.
White also told attendees that ST 3636 B2R will be available in 2005.
"ST 3636 B2R is an early-maturity variety with good early season vigor and high yield potential," he says. It also exhibits good fiber quality and storm resistance.
"We have developed a variety that will yield with the commercially planted varieties," White adds. "ST 5599 BR will yield slightly higher on average by about 75 pounds. But 3636 is an early maturing variety, not a full season variety."
The need to improve fiber quality, while maintaining high yield potential was the hot topic for the Southeast portion of the program.
"Farmers are paid for yield," says Georgia cotton specialist Steve Brown. "But the idea that farmers will be paid for quality is getting a lot of discussion.
"We've been talking about fiber quality for a number of months, but I would say that the idea that farmers will be paid for cotton quality is something that is coming and I think it is coming fast," he adds. That's going to hit us hard in the Southeast.
Brown noted that fiber quality is up across the Belt, but short fiber content is still an issue in the Southeast.
"We're seeing quality improvements in the transgenic varieties, but we're not there yet," he says. "Quality is not a problem we can fix overnight. It's a 6 to 10 year venture if everything works right.
"However, in terms of management there are some things we can do to improve quality," Brown notes.
"First, tell your ginner which variety is in which module," he says. "Then you can see specific numbers [related to quality] for specific varieties. Second, be more timely. Have a greater sense of urgency at harvest.
"Third, control stinkbugs," Brown says. "Stinkbug damage affects all parameters of quality, so you need to have good stinkbug control."
Jaime Yanes, tech service agronomist for the Southeast, concluded the program by announcing that Emergent Genetics will offer tow new full season varieties for 2005.
"ST 6636 BR and ST 6848R represent our first entry into the full season market," Yanes says. "These varieties have excellent early season vigor and are maintaining the yields of competitive varieties that are currently on the market.
Yanes adds that ST 6636 BR and ST 6848R also exhibit premium fiber quality.
Although Emergent Genetics recognizes ST 5599 BR as its most versatile variety across the Belt on dryland or irrigated ground, Danny Rogers says the company is moving toward developing and launching new varieties that fit specific areas. Examples include the stormproof, high quality fiber NexGen varieties adapted to the High Plains market and the 6000 series varieties for the Southeast to help with that area's quality issues.
"We are moving toward a greater number of products in our offerings with more specific adaptation," Rogers says.