Focus on Fiber

Choosing a cotton seed used to start with yield results; the new trail takes growers first to quality traits. Pam Golden

Published on: Dec 10, 2004

Fiber quality. Fiber quality. And fiber quality.

That’s all three answers to the question: What is important when choosing cotton seed varieties?

The first place where a grower can begin his quest for higher quality is by picking cotton varieties that show good performance in fiber traits. The numbers are available through university field trials and through company plots. Look for varieties that have local trials. Check all the fiber quality numbers, then look at yield potential. Discounts for fiber quality are more likely to impact profit.

"It used to be that growers could make up for any bumps in quality with yield," Stoneville Pedigreed Seed Co./Emergent Genetics Inc. agronomist Jaime Yanes says. "That’s not the situation this year."

Yanes says Emergent focused on fiber quality while developing the eight varieties it’s releasing this year.

Of interest to Southern growers is ST3636B2R, which "provides growers the option of planting a very early variety without sacrificing yield or fiber quality," says Mike Robinson, an Emergent Genetics breeder based in Stoneville, Miss.

"It also allows more opportunity under replant conditions with the benefit of Bollgard II for increased Lepidopteran control," Robinson says. "Additionally, ST 4575BR and ST 4686R provide the improved fiber quality that growers need without losing yield potential. They are slightly earlier than ST 4892BR with excellent pickability."

Growers in the Southern Cotton Belt also can plant two new Stoneville brand full-season varieties - ST 6636BR and ST 6848R.

"These smooth-leaf varieties offer excellent fiber quality that may be better than that of ST 5599BR and other leading competitive varieties, particularly in staple and strength," says Mark Barfield, Emergent Genetics Southeast Research Station Manager, Albany, Ga. "ST 6636BR and ST 6848R represent new germplasm that has never had bronze wilt detected in it."

"Both varieties make a very good middle and top crop," Barfield says. "Their full-season maturity is well suited to both dryland and irrigated production on coarse-textured soils of the Coastal Plain. When the weather turns dry and hot, this germplasm has a tendency to hunker down during the day."

Limited seed supplies of all eight varieties are expected in 2005. Large quantities will be available in 2006. For more information, go to