So, harvest is almost complete, and the numbers look pretty encouraging on your farm. Somehow, you survived the early floods that hit the Mid-South and even endured recordbreaking heat and drought that was with us for most of the summer. All in all, you probably feel satisfied and proud of how your cotton crop performed this year. Yes, you even managed to implement a residual herbicide program that included a hooded sprayer, and you did a better job of controlling resistant pigweed.
Now comes the fun part. It’s time to go ahead and start doing your homework on seed variety selections for 2012. This is no easy task and has evolved into one of the most detailed, meticulous jobs a farmer faces during the entire year. It is easily the most important and expensive decision he’ll make. It requires looking at a lot of data, evaluating on-farm trials and then calculating how to match a specific variety and soil type.
For that reason, we thought it would be beneficial to hear from seed experts and farmers who might be able to pass along some good advice on seed variety decisions. Aside from Dr. Bill Meredith at USDA-ARS in Stoneville, Miss., the two experts I always lean on are Jane Dever, Associate Professor/Cotton Breeder at Texas AgriLife Research in Lubbock, Texas, and Fred Bourland, Arkansas cotton breeder and manager of the Northeast Ag Research Station in Keiser, Ark.
Dever and Bourland have written Viewpoint Editorials on pages 25 and 30. Both take a detailed look at what all goes into evaluating cotton varieties and how far this process has come in the last few decades. No matter where you farm, you can benefit from reading what they have to say.
How far have we come in cotton quality in the United States? Our friend Kelli Merritt, a Texas farmer, broker and merchant, has traveled the world on behalf of cotton producers in her state. She knows firsthand how much U.S. cotton quality has improved in the last decade. Look for her story on pages 28 and 29.
Finally, how do farmers themselves feel about this seed variety decision process? Is it becoming easier or more difficult? We decided to ask West Tennessee producer Willie German and Texas producer Doug Wilde for their opinions. Not surprisingly, they say it has become a major challenge as they sift through statistics and observe variety trials on their own farms.
Finally, be sure and check out the annual Cotton Farming Seed Guide on pages 9, 10 and 11. It is an extensive list for 2012 cotton seed varieties. The good news, of course, is that there are a lot of seed choices out there for farmers. In the long run, that’s a win-win situation for all parties.
Here’s hoping you pick a winner.
If you have comments, send them to: Editor, Cotton Farming Magazine, 1010 June Road, Suite 102, Memphis, Tenn., 38119. Or send e-mail to: