Oklahoma State University and University of Oklahoma both have good football teams this season, but Oklahoma cotton producers were also top ranked in 2019. They kicked off their season as the No. 3 state for planted cotton acres in the United States.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Oklahoma farmers planted 720,000 cotton acres in 2019 — only Texas and Georgia planted more. Oklahoma has more than doubled its cotton acres since 2016.
Newer cotton varieties that thrive in Oklahoma are among the top reasons for the surge in acres. These varieties offer increased potential for higher yields and better fiber quality. Improved profit potential makes cotton an even better choice for Oklahoma growers.
Ken Lege, Ph.D., a PhytoGen Cotton Development Specialist for southwest Oklahoma, said most Oklahoma cotton acres are rain-fed, so yields greatly depend on weather. Even so, farmers regularly produce 2.5 to 3 bales per acre on irrigated acres, and 2-bale dryland yields are common with good rainfall. Farmers are taking advantage of these opportunities with newer varieties.
“Cotton production is new to much of Oklahoma, and it’s exciting to see farmers find new ways to thrive,” Lege said. “They are taking advantage of available varieties to produce excellent yields and quality cotton.”
Protecting yield potential
For example, Oklahoma farmers are planting PhytoGen® W3FE varieties for the Enlist™ weed control system and PhytoGen Breeding Traits™. The Enlist weed control system enables exceptional weed control in cotton with tolerance to three postemergence herbicide options: 2,4-D choline, glyphosate and glufosinate. PhytoGen Breeding Traits — or naturally occurring, native traits — provide season-long protection against common yield-robbing pests and diseases, such as bacterial blight and root-knot nematodes.
“Historically, bacterial blight has been an issue in Oklahoma cotton, but PhytoGen W3FE varieties are all resistant to bacterial blight. We’ve taken that problem out of the equation for our customers,” Lege said.
As more Oklahoma acres are planted to cotton behind cotton, newer pests are becoming more prolific in the region.
“Verticillium wilt has not been a big problem for Oklahoma in the past, but I’ve heard several reports of vert wilt in 2019,” Lege said. “Root-knot nematodes are also an issue we need to consider, especially on acres where cotton is planted several years in a row.”
In those situations, Lege recommends varieties with the PhytoGen Breeding Traits for verticillium wilt tolerance and root-knot-nematode resistance. With PhytoGen Breeding Traits, growers get season-long protection against these pests, built into the seed.
Jonathan Siebert, Ph.D., PhytoGen Cotton Development Specialist for central Oklahoma, said PhytoGen Breeding Traits give cotton growers peace of mind against problem pests, from planting to harvest. That’s important because every season is different.
“Disease and pest pressure are variable each year, but yield losses can have a great impact on the bottom line,” Siebert said. “PhytoGen Breeding Traits help Oklahoma growers produce more consistent yields, season after season.”
In addition to protection from weeds and pests, PhytoGen offers a wide range of maturities for Oklahoma. Midmaturing varieties perform consistently in the region, and Lege said PhytoGen offers a good mix of varieties to help growers diversify.
“Our 400-series varieties really hit the sweet spot for many Oklahoma acres, and our 300-series varieties yield extremely well on irrigated acres,” Lege said. “And our 500-series varieties have also performed well for growers who prefer a larger-statured, later crop. We really do have a great variety for every cotton acre in Oklahoma.”
To learn more about PhytoGen, go to PhytoGenCottonseed.com.
™ ® PhytoGen, PhytoGen Breeding Traits and the PhytoGen Logo are trademarks of PhytoGen Seed Company, LLC. ™ ® Enlist is a trademark of Dow AgroSciences, DuPont or Pioneer, and their affiliated companies or their respective owners. The Enlist weed control system is owned and developed by Dow AgroSciences LLC. PhytoGen Seed Company is a joint venture between Mycogen Corporation, an affiliate of Dow AgroSciences LLC, and the J.G. Boswell Company.