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New cotton varieties give growers options

Seed companies step up to offer growers a wide range of cotton varieties.

Brent Murphree

February 1, 2024

2 Min Read
Cottonseed
In the past few years, a number of cotton focused organizations have addressed concerns that smaller seed does not have the vigor to stand up to cool spring planting conditions.Delta Farm Press

A few years ago when larger seed and crop protection companies were buying up cottonseed companies, many including myself, were worried that our freedom of choice was disappearing when it came to selecting a variety for our farms.

I was concerned that despite the extensive research on hundreds of varieties of cotton by seed companies and state universities, commercially available varieties would be limited to maybe three or four options for farmers with little consideration being made for niche growing areas, like the far West.

That has certainly not become the reality.

This year with 15 new varieties coming from Armor Seed, Deltapine, BASF, PhytoGen and Americot, it seems we have plenty to choose from. And it is a wide range of varieties that hold up to the storms in South Texas or root knot nematodes and bacterial blight.

I’ve spoken to seed breeders who had concerns about increasing diseases like fusarium or resistance to weed control products. Their breeding programs were focused on building strong varieties that could rise above the threat of disease and provide alternatives to resistant pests.

It’s been awesome to see those programs find success or different methods for combating threats.

We’ve had some slip-ups, including some issues with pesticide drift as growers and researchers adjusted to the technology.

After a lot of talk and some legal wrangling, the ag community has led the way to resolve many of the issues brought on by the dicamba/2,4-D situation. The technology is a great tool for cotton growers, brough to us by some great cotton breeders.

In that process, breeders stayed diligent in their effort to improve the crop.

Within the last few years other technologies have become available that have benefited the grower a great deal. Among other things the ThryvOn technology saves us from thrips and plant bugs. And Axant Flex gives growers more flexibility for weed control.

With that in mind, it’s always a good idea to check with your seed rep or the people that are running variety tests in your area to make sure the varieties you are looking at are a good mix for your operation.

One of the things I’ve watched from afar is the debate about seed size. I believe that seed companies are responding to the issue of seed size and vigor.

In the past few years, a number of cotton focused organizations, including the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, have addressed concerns that smaller seed does not have the vigor to stand up to cool spring planting conditions.

Also, smaller seed size is associated with problems in the ginning process including seed fragments and less volume for post-ginning cottonseed sales.

This year BASF and Armor Seed have varieties that provide good vigor from larger seed.

So once again, I’m happy to see that seed companies and their breeders are providing great alternatives for cotton growers.

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Upland Cotton

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