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Seed Variety Choices Remain Crucial

Tommy Horton

By Tommy Horton

Many years ago, the process of choosing a new cotton seed variety was so much simpler – or at least it seemed that way. Obviously, the technology wasn’t nearly as advanced in those days. A producer pretty much had his favorite variety and stayed with it as long as he could.

To say that today’s environment has drastically changed doesn’t even begin to tell the story. If you look at our annual Seed Guide on pages 9, 10 and 11, you’ll get the picture. The choices are numerous. Technology has taken cotton farmers to a different world where varieties and new technology are coming at them faster than a NASCAR race car cruising at 200 miles per hour at Daytona Beach, Fla. Okay, maybe not that fast, but you get the picture. Varieties are now being commercially released to the market at a dizzying pace. No matter where you farm in the Belt, a new variety is coming down the pipeline nearly every year, and hopefully it is a custom fit for your region.

Meanwhile, consultants and Extension specialists are scrambling as they try to educate themselves after studying research trial data for a couple of years. And, of course, we can’t forget the seed sales representatives out there trying to explain the complexities of a new germplasm or genetic trait.

Even though the technology train is on a fast track, we shouldn’t complain. This is exactly what the marketplace wanted more than a decade ago when textile mills – both overseas and here at home – started clamoring for better quality in the cotton they received.

Can any of us remember the 2001 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in Anaheim, Calif., where this very topic was front and center at the Production Conference? This is where textile mill executives pleaded with farmers in the audience to deliver better quality, so that mills could compete in the global market. Farmers, meanwhile, engaged in a healthy dialogue with the mill speakers and talked about yields being more important because that is what paid the bills.

It was a memorable exchange of ideas, and, in my opinion, sparked an important debate about cotton quality.

Today, nearly 14 years after that memorable Beltwide Production Conference, the pipeline has continued to deliver an array of varieties that are giving farmers exactly what they need. More tools, more options and superior fiber quality. This unquestionably will keep U.S. cotton farmers competitive as we look to the future.

If you have comments, send them to: Editor, Cotton Farming Magazine, 1010 June Road, Suite 102, Memphis, Tenn., 38119. Or send e-mail to: thorton@onegrower.com.