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Producers Adopting New Seed Traits


Despite the steady decrease in U.S.-planted cotton acres, the adoption by cotton producers of Bollgard II with Roundup Ready Flex stacked-trait cotton continues to surge upward.

Paul Callaghan, U.S. cotton traits marketing manager for Monsanto, estimates that 5.64 million acres of this stacked-trait cotton will be planted in 2009 – out of the eight million planted cotton acres forecast for the upcoming crop season.

Gene Roney, a cotton producer in Dooly County, Ga., knows that the days for Deltapine 555 – the area’s mainstay variety – are numbered. To get a handle on replacing this high-performing variety, he planted 100 acres of Bollgard II with Roundup Ready Flex cotton in 2008.

“This cotton looked and yielded as well as the Triple Nickel,” says Roney, who grew 2,100 acres of cotton in 2008 with brothers Steve and Arthur.

Roney gives the Bollgard II with Roundup Ready Flex technologies high marks, saying that both traits combined might enable him to farm more acres with the same amount of labor.

“We might be able to farm 3,000 acres of cotton with three people instead of 1,000 acres with three people,” the Georgia producer says. “These technologies are lowering our production costs.”

New Traits Are Popular

The 5.6 million acres of Bollgard II with Roundup Ready Flex forecast for 2009 demonstrates a steep adoption curve for these technologies.

“This steady upswing in planted stacked-trait acres is a tremendous testimonial to the benefits that producers are realizing from these technologies,” Callaghan says.

“Producers are seeing real value in terms of time savings, increased flexibility, fewer trips over their fields and the ability to use the saved time to better manage other crops and their overall farm operations.”

Natural Refuge Factor

Larry Steckel, Tennessee Extension weed specialist, says that the Bollgard II with Roundup Ready Flex cotton has been rapidly adopted for several reasons. First, high-yielding cotton varieties that offer these traits are popular with north Delta producers. Second, the natural refuge option available for Bollgard II has been well received by producers, who like not having to plant a structured non-Bt cotton refuge.

Cotton producers will have even more varieties with improved yield potential that carry the Bollgard II and Roundup Ready Flex traits from which to choose when Deltapine introduces its Class of ’09 lineup. Finally, the trend toward larger farm operations means that these biotech traits allow producers to farm more acres – with less hassle and cost – than would be possible with conventional cotton.

“A lot of our growers have large operations that might be spread out over three counties,” Steckel says. “The Roundup Ready Flex trait, in particular, allows them to cover their acres with a high-clearance sprayer much quicker, compared with using cultivation or hooded sprayers.

“The technology is also a useful tool in no-till and reduced-till cotton production, which is popular with a majority of our farmers.”

Advantage Of Flexibility

David Pearson, a west Texas cotton producer in Levelland, will plant approximately 3,000 acres of Bollgard II with Roundup Ready Flex cotton in 2009 based on benefits he has realized to date on a portion of his cotton acres.

“The Roundup Ready Flex and Bollgard II traits save us a lot of time and give us a lot more flexibility,” Pearson says. “Instead of racing over our ground to apply herbicide before the fifth-leaf stage, we can instead take our time and focus instead on more important tasks at that time of year, such as making sure our irrigation is up and running.”

Information for this article was provided by Monsanto.

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