As Texas growers prepare to plant cotton this year, many of them can now know that cotton root rot won't decimate their cotton fields.
Under a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Section 18 Emergency Exemption, they can apply Topguard fungicide at planting time to control cotton root rot, a mid-season yield robber than has plagued Texas cotton growers for well over a century.
Without effective root rot control, Texas growers sustain direct losses of about $30 million per year, according to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. With Topguard, growers can win the war against cotton root rot.
Topguard, made by Cheminova, was used in Texas for the first time in 2012 under a section 18 Emergency Exemption. EPA has granted a second Section 18 in 2013 for Topguard to be used at planting.
Austin Clary, who grows cotton in Uvalde and Medina counties of Texas, used Topguard in 2012.
"We'd been so desperate for a remedy to root rot that I was willing to try it," says Clary.
He applied Topguard at planting, in a T-Band application. As the season progressed, Clary scouted fields and found almost no sign of cotton root rot.
"It's proven to work very well," he says. "Topguard is going to make cotton more of an option on a lot more acres. There are fields that we would have never thought about planting to cotton that we can plant to cotton now."
Prior to Topguard, Clary's only choice was to grow less cotton and plant more fields to corn and cabbage, two crops not affected by cotton root rot. Nearly half of his cotton fields had been damaged by cotton root rot, caused by a fungus that persists in the soil year after year.
"We have some areas where it has been almost impossible to grow cotton because of cotton root rot," adds Mark Nemec of MJN Consulting Service in Hewitt, Texas. The emergency exemption for Topguard is enabling growers to produce cotton again in these areas, he says.
Two of Nemec's clients applied Topguard to dryland cotton acres in 2012. One used TopGuard on all of his acres and saw good results.
Before using Topguard, 30% to 50% of this grower's worst field was typically affected by cotton root rot. After treating his cotton with the fungicide last year, only about 5% of the field was affected. Moreover, the dead plants were scattered throughout the field, not bunched in areas, says Nemec.
The crop consultant's other client used Topguard only on parts of fields known to have root rot.
"You could see 'to the row' where he made the application," he says. "There was a lot of dead cotton on one side and not the other."
For more information on Topguard, cotton growers should consult with their local crop adviser, crop protection dealer, or Cheminova representative. They also can visit online at www.cheminova-us.com.