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Brad-haire-cotton-round-2019-1-a.jpg Brad Haire

A decent year for North Carolina cotton

Due to timely rains in August and excellent weather in September and early October, North Carolina cotton fared OK.

Although 2019 brought widespread and severe drought stress to many areas in North Carolina  during June and July, this year turned out to be a decent year for cotton in most areas of the state, due to timely rains in August and excellent weather during September and early October.

That’s the word from North Carolina State University cotton agronomist Guy Collins, who notes North Carolina farmers were able to capture nearly all of the harvestable yield this year with preliminary observations also showing good fiber quality.

Collins has released results from the 2019 North Carolina on-farm cotton variety evaluation program noting in an Extension posting that the program was once again a huge success thanks to support from the North Carolina Cotton Producers, Association, North Carolina . Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services,  North Carolina State University, seed companies, and Cotton Incorporated.

To see the results of program, click here.

“This program was only made possible through their leadership and support, and the significant effort from our county agents, consultants, and cooperating growers through implementing this program in 16 trials across the state,” Collins wrote in an Extension posting. ‘The contributions of all involved are much appreciated, and will have significant impact on our growers’ bottom line as we look forward to the 2020 season.”

The North Carolina  on-farm program consists of the most widely-adapted and best-fit varieties for North Carolina  cotton growers as determined by leading seed companies.

“It is always advised that variety decisions be based on multi-environment and multi-year replicated data in order to identify varieties with a high degree of stability (strong performance across a wide range of environmental conditions and years),” Collins writes.

“As a standard practice, it is always wise for growers to choose several varieties and position those varieties in environments where they are likely to perform competitively. It is also advised that growers observe data from both the on-farm program and NC State University Official Variety Trials (OVT) which will be available very soon,” the cotton agronomist added.

Collins explains that both  programs serve as platforms for effective evaluation of variety performance but are different in several regards.

“One of the primary strengths of the on-farm program is the vast number of environments that are effectively captured in a given season. However, OVT can accommodate many more varieties than we can effectively evaluate in an on-farm trial, and many of our seed companies have several competitive varieties (including brand new, recently released varieties) available for North Carolian  producers, many of which are evaluated in OVT,” Collins points out.

“Together, the On-Farm and OVT programs collectively offer growers a complete platform for making variety decisions. Within the fifth year of this program alone, the on-farm program again has clearly demonstrated that variety selection is one of the most important decisions a grower can make that will significantly impact their profitability in a given year,” Collins writes.

“Depending on the degree of variety selection error, the 2018 on-farm trials clearly illustrated that producers could lose an average of $92 to $186 per acre due to improper variety selection, with a potential statewide economic value of $45,540,000 to $92,070,000. Keep in mind, that these figures are based on performance of the best varieties from each brand, therefore a producer could do much worse than this by choosing a less competitive variety,” Collins points out.

Variety performance information will be discussed in much greater detail during the upcoming

winter cotton meetings held across North Carolina’s cotton growing area. For a schedule of meetings, click here.

For 2020, Collins urges farmers to focus more on stability characteristics and especially regional performance since variety performance varied widely from trial-to-trial and from region-to-region. Collins urges farmers to attend their nearest winter meeting before making any definite variety decisions.

He said the just released  2019 On-Farm Cotton Variety Performance Summary  does provide a very good summary until the winter meetings are held.

“It is important to note that lint yields were higher than expected this year, with little to no losses during the fall. Additionally, although 2018 did encounter drought stress during late June and early July, drought stress was noticeably more severe and prolonged in 2019, at least until August rains resumed,” Collins points out.

Collins emphasizes that due  to the clear variation in performance between trials in 2019, it is not wise to base variety decisions on results from a single trial or even a small number of trials.

John HartJohn-Hart-Farm-Press-Guy-Collins-Jason-Sweeney.jpg

Discussing the 2019 on-farm cotton variety evaluation program during the North Carolina Agricultural Consultants Association annual conference in Raleigh Dec. 4 are North Carolina State University cotton agronomist Guy Collins, left, and Jason Sweeney, a research specialist with Tidewater Agronomics in Belvidere, N.C.

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