The Beltwide Cotton Conferences are some of the most anticipated agriculture meetings of the year. The four days of presentations and workshops, Jan. 3-6, in Orlando, Florida, touch on every aspect of cotton production across the Cotton Belt, with a particular focus on university and industry research, as well as the marketing situation and outlook. Of course, there are too many aspects to cover completely in one article, but here are a few of the highlights at this year's meetings.
Bill Robertson, the National Cotton Council's manager of Agronomy, Soils and Physiology, coordinates the conferences. He noted the central general session of this year's conference was focused on how the 2011 growing season developed, marketing strategies, new farm policy development and impending regulations and new plant protection products.
The potential market price is always an interesting topic for growers during the conferences. Terry Townsend, executive director of the International Cotton Advisory Committee, said it doesn't appear at his time that there is any technology on the horizon that will cause a yield breakthrough for cotton. That means production and prices are likely to be relatively stable over the long-term. He speculated the cotton price is likely to be 80 cents to $1 over the course of the decade, with yearly variations, of course.
Awards are an important part of every Beltwide Conference event. Tom Barber of the University of Arkansas was named the 2012 Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year during the conference, an award sponsored by Bayer CropScience. The award winner is chosen by his peers across the Cotton Belt. Barber was cited for on-farm visits, county presentations and weekly in-season updates via his Arkansas Row Crops newsletter and website.
Tom is very active in research," said University of Tennessee specialist Chris Main while making the presentation (Main won the award himself in 2011). "Not only does he engage in an active research role in Arkansas, where he evaluates best practices for irrigation management, precision planting and on-farm variety evaluation, he is also active with the Extension Cotton Specialists Working Group research program that addresses issues across the Cotton Belt. Tom has also played an important role in launching UA 48, a cotton variety from the Arkansas breeding program."
Keerti Rathore of Texas AgriLife Research was named the winner of the 2011 Cotton Genetics Research Award during the event, particularly for his work producing cotton varieties with reduced gossypol in the seeds, making it possible for cottonseed from these varieties to be eaten by humans and monogastric animals.
"Keerti has lines that show 95% reduction in seed gossypol that makes these seed an excellent source of oil and protein, edible by humans," said Wayne Smith, Texas A&M soil and crop sciences associate department head. "This effort could lead to a new, high quality food source for people around the world."
During the conferences Bayer CropScience announced that their Liberty herbicide will replace Ignite herbicide for LibertyLink crops.
On the seed treatment front Bayer announced Poncho/VOTIVO nematicide will be teamed with AERIS insecticide and nematicide, giving the treatment added protection against early season insects like thrips, aphids and cutworms as well as increased effectiveness as a nematicide.
Monsanto's chief technology officer Robb Fraley told attendees in Orlando he was excited about progress the company made this year "across all R&D platforms." The company is working with BASF Plant Science to produce drought-tolerant cotton, the Holy Grail for cotton producers, particularly in Texas, other parts of the west, the Deep South and the Southeast.
Monsanto's representatives talked about its nematicide chemistry at the conferences and also its Genuity Bollgard III Cotton, a third generation genetically modified insect control product. Deltapine is a Monsanto seed brand and it recently released three new varieties in its "Class of 12," which will be available this year.
FMC Agricultural Products notes it now has a varied product arsenal for cotton, and research at the conferences covered university findings on the effectiveness of these products. Aim herbicide, the company notes, is a consistent performer that controls juvenile regrowth and promotes clean leaf shed. Carbine insecticide is a new technology with a mode of action that is useful in insecticide resistance management (IRM) programs. Mustang Max, Athena, Hero, Brigade 2EC and Brigadier round out the company's cotton insecticide products. The company's versatile Shark EW herbicide can be used as a preplant burndown, post direct and layby treatment or as a harvest aid.
Visit the Beltwide Cotton Conferences website, sponsored by the National Cotton Council, to learn more about this year's conferences. The homepage is www.cotton.org/beltwide/.