The wintery, cold conditions outside provide a good opportunity to put some more wood on the fire and begin looking at all the variety trial data to make selections for the coming year. Although you might prefer the “hang it on the wall and wherever the dart hits, that’s your selection,” method, careful consideration of different trials, different environments and your different needs is really the better method.
To begin the process, Guy Collins, University of Georgia Extension cotton agronomist, says to start by compiling a lot of data from the Official Variety Trials (OVT) and from on-farm trials.
“In the OVTs, there are more varieties compared, but the variability of environments and conditions is reduced,” he says. “On the county level, there are usually less varieties, but more growing environments included.”
The key, Collins says, is to look for more replications and consistency across different environments.
Know Your Needs, Capabilities
Narrow down the possible varieties by knowing what is needed for your field conditions.
Clyde Smith, regional IPM agronomy agent for Jackson County, Fla., says to consider insect and weed management and irrigation capabilities.
“When a producer is making a selection, he needs to think about what kind of insect control he will need and what kind of weed control he will need and then if it will be irrigated or dryland,” he says.
“Right now, most varieties have a herbicide gene inserted into them or an insecticide gene or both. And then, dryland will have a specific set of varieties available, and irrigated will have a certain set of varieties.”
Match Varieties To Field
“Place new varieties in environments where they will do best,” Collins says. “Some varieties are better than others in different conditions, such as dryland and irrigated.”
Other options to consider in variety selection include a range of planting dates, maturity classes and plant growth characteristics.
Because the average lifespan of cotton varieties is becoming less and less, it is more important than ever that producers spend a significant amount of time studying the numbers from variety trials.
Contact Amanda Huber at (352) 486-7006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
UGA Performance Calculator Helps Monitor Varieties
The University of Georgia Cotton Variety Performance Calculator allows users to compare performance of multiple varieties from information produced by both the statewide variety testing program (OVT) and large plot on-farm trials across a wide range of environmental conditions and production practices.
Find information about the cotton variety performance calculator at http://commodities.caes.uga.edu/fieldcrops/cotton/cottoncalc.