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Variety, technology shape California, Arizona cotton

Variety, technology shape California, Arizona cotton

The California and Arizona cotton industries are evolving due to crop competition, drought- and regulatory-based water restrictions, weed resistance, Fusarium Race 4 disease, the persnickety root-knot nematode, and other challenges. Western cotton growers are already reading about seed variety options online and sifting through catalogues for 2015 variety consideration.  

While most of the 2014 western cotton crop has been gleaned from fields, growers are likely already online reading about seed options or flipping through catalogues for 2015 options.

That said, the California and Arizona cotton industries continue to evolve due to crop competition, drought- and regulatory-based water restrictions, weed resistance, Fusarium Race 4 disease, the persnickety root-knot nematode, and other challenges.

While cotton acres could fall in the neighboring states in 2015, Pima plantings may increase in both. Growers are already evaluating Pima and Upland-Acala cottonseed varieties and weighing which variety could generate the highest yields and quality.

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This article is a rundown of the 2014 commercial cotton varieties, how several fared this year, and the cottonseed options and technology for the 2015 season and beyond.

Note, the figures and percentages below are from the National Cotton Council website (data from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service).

California cotton

Statewide, cotton plantings in the Golden State totaled about 215,000 acres in 2014: about 155,000 acres of Pima and 60,000 acres of Upland.

California Pima: Looking at planted cottonseed from Dow AgroSciences this year, Dow AgroSciences’ PhytoGen line had an 86 percent Pima market share (rounded number).

Dow Sales Representative Harry Peck says the two key Pima varieties – PHY 805 RF Pima (40 percent statewide Pima share) and 811 RF Pima (26 percent share) - perform on the “upper end of the quality scale.”

PHY 805 RF and PHY 811 RF are popular with growers due in part to their higher tolerance to the soil disease Fusarium Race 4.

The disease is found in most soils in California cotton country. The disease can cause plants at the 2-3 leaf stage to collapse, depending on the inoculum level and other factors.

“PHY 811 RF has a little more tolerance with Fusarium Race 4 than PHY 805 RF,” Peck said.

This year, PHY 802 RF Pima had an 18 percent share while the conventional PHY 830 Pima had a 2 percent share.

Deltapine’s (Monsanto) DP 340 Pima variety was planted on 4 percent of the acreage. The Pima varieties DP 357 and DP 358 RF were planted on less than 1 percent of the cotton ground. Deltapine plans to bring more Pima varieties to the California commercial market in the future.

“We may introduce a new Pima choice in 2015 which could offer very strong performance in California,” said David Albers, Deltapine’s cotton germplasm manager.

Hazera had two commercial Pima varieties this year - HA 211 and HA 1432 – with a combined 5 percent market share.

California Upland-Acala

On the Bayer CropScience side, Acala Daytona RF was the top grower choice this year (32 percent). Other Bayer varieties included Stoneville’s ST 4946GLB2 (5 percent) and ST 4498B2RF (2 percent); for a total 39 percent California market share.

The second most popular Acala Upland variety was Dow PhytoGen’s PHY 725 RF (28 percent). Phytogen PHY 499 WRF and PHY 755 WRF (10 percent combined) brought Dow’s market share to a 38 percent share, a close second place.

Growers planted Deltapine’s DP 1044 B2RF and DP 1441 RF on 6 percent of the acreage.

Arizona plantings

Cotton acreage in the Grand Canyon State totaled about 140,000 Upland acres and 15,000 Pima acres in the 2014-2015 crop year (155,000 acres total). Note that Pima acres increased about 800 percent this year, according to Leighton Liesner of the Arizona Cotton Research and Production Council.

Arizona Upland:

Arizona growers preferred Deltapine Upland varieties - about 53 percent market share. The work horse was DP 1044 B2RF (21 percent): followed by DP 1359 B2RF (13 percent); DP 0912 B2RF (10 percent); and DP 1219 B2RF (7 percent) – rounded numbers.

“These varieties came out of Deltapine’s Arizona breeding program and have great performance, heat tolerance, and adaptation for Arizona growers,” Albers told cotton growers at the 2015 Deltapine Cotton Field Day in Casa Grande.

Albers added, “DP 1044 B2RF is the variety that goes to Texas and is widely adapted and easy to grow.”

DP 1044 B2RF and DP 1219 B2RF are mid-season cottons.

“Growers today want to manage their water and are looking for the early- to mid-maturity type for good earliness,” Albers said. “DP 1044 B2RF and DP 1219 B2RF are good options.”

7-bale cotton yield

Jerry Rovey, a Buckeye (West Phoenix) grower planted full-season DP 1359 B2RF last year pushing the crop with extra water. Yields broke the seven-bale mark in one plot.

Also popular with Arizona cotton growers this year were Bayer’s Fibermax and Stoneville varieties (26 percent market share).

ST 4946GLB2 (7 percent) performed well in the Yuma area in its 2014 variety debut, said Bayer CropScience Agronomist Kenny Melton at the company’s cotton field day in October.

“There are reports from the Yuma area of five-bale yields with ST 4946GLB2,” Melton said. “The fiber quality looked good. We are really tickled with the results.”

ST 4946GLB2 (7 percent) replaced the ST 4498GLB2 variety.

Another Stoneville – the full-season ST 6448GLB2 (3 percent) – does well in Arizona yet Melton says the aggressive growing plant must be managed carefully.

In Bayer’s Fibermax line, FM 1830GLT and FM 2334GLT (4 percent) came from the same cross. The FM 1830GLT variety is a slightly earlier plant than the FM 2334GLT variety. Melton says both have improved heat tolerance and an excellent fiber package.

Ariz. Pima:

2014 Pima acreage – 15,000 acres – was a shocker this year since Arizona’s 2013 acreage was in the 3,000-4,000 acre range. At one time, Arizona growers were the nation’s largest Pima producer but production shifted to California.

At the Arizona Cotton Conference held this summer, cotton growers, ginners, and other industry members were stunned when Leighton Liesner announced the 2014 15,000 acre Pima figure. Some producers plan to plant more Pima in 2015.

PhytoGen’s PHY 805 RF and PHY 811 RF varieties are the top two Pima varieties planted in Arizona this year (74 percent of total acreage). Dow Sales Rep Junior Evans of Arizona says these varieties provide good yield potential, staple length, and fiber strength. PHY 811 RF matures about five-days earlier.

Deltapine had an 18 percent Pima share with its DP 340 and DP 358 RF Pima varieties.

Innovative technology

Harry Peck says Dow continues research into higher tolerant varieties to Fusarium Race 4, along with higher yields and fiber quality.

Albers says Deltapine’s main emphasis in the West is increasing yield but also gaining more crop per drop of water.

Pending regulatory approval, Deltapine could launch its XtendFlex technology in Arizona in 2015. The product would be Bollgard II with XtendFlex for triple stack tolerance to Roundup, Dicamba, and Liberty herbicides.

From Bayer, Melton says the company will field test varieties with TwinLink Plus in 2015. The ‘Plus’ is Vip 3A, a trait designed to improve worm control in cotton and make the product a better resistance management tool. Bayer hopes to launch TwinLink Plus in 2016, pending regulatory approvals.

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