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Another Tool For Nematode Control?

Alabama producer Charlie Speake likes potential of new variety.

Alabama producer Charlie Speake likes potential of new variety.

When a cotton producer has spent nearly four decades fighting insect pests, it’s nice to find a new plan of attack.

That is one way of describing Alabama producer Charlie Speake’s situation near Eufaula in the southern part of the state as he continues to wage war against nematodes.

He has tried several approaches against these microscopic pests. First, he rotated cotton with peanuts, and then years later he put out applications of Telone. Each strategy achieved some measure of success.

Speake then decided to plant the Deltapine root-knot nematode-resistant (RKN) variety DP 1454NR B2RF on a test plot last fall.

“We definitely had the root-knot nematode pressure to evaluate it,” he says. “It got off to a slow start, and it
was effective, but the dry weather definitely had an impact on the variety’s overall yield performance.”

Optimism For 2105
Even though there was a limited supply of DP 1454NR B2RF in 2014, Speake likes the technology associated with the variety. He knows that variable factors such as lack of rainfall and difficult soil composition can affect any variety’s performance on dryland acres. However, he is convinced that a root-knot nematode-resistant variety is the right tool for controlling this pest.

With the use of genetic markers, Monsanto is breeding varieties exhibiting root-knot nematode resistance. The breeding trait provides season-long control by enabling strong root growth and reducing RKN populations in the soil profile.

In the 2014 New Product Evaluator program, farmers are evaluating two other DP varieties bred for RKN resistance that offer high yield potential.

“It’s pretty obvious that the variety didn’t get a fair shot because of the weather,” says Speake. “I feel confident that we’ll look at it again.”

The Speake farm has 75 percent of its acreage planted to cotton and 25 percent to peanuts. Occasionally, corn acreage will comprise 10 percent of the acres. Overall, dryland yields averaged 750 pounds per acre in 2014, while irrigated acres averaged 1,500 pounds.

Speake’s long-time consultant Jason Long sums it up best on the importance of a nematode-resistant variety.

“I know that Charlie feels strongly about this variety,” he says. “We had another farmer five miles down the road, and he received good rainfall, and his DP 1454 variety yielded 1,400 pounds on dryland acreage.

“That should tell you something about this particular variety. We know it will work.”

Contact Tommy Horton at (901) 767-4020 or thorton@onegrower.com.