Variety Choices Are Always Crucial

By Tommy Horton
Editor

It might seem a bit early to start thinking about what cotton varieties to plant in 2014 – especially since many producers haven't finished harvesting this year's crop. However, by the time this issue of Cotton Farming lands in your mailbox, I can assure you that a lot of folks will already be thinking about next year.

Simply put, today's cotton producer can't spend enough time doing homework on variety selection. We already know it's the most important decision of any crop season. But in today's highly competitive environment with so many new varieties launched every year, a farmer simply has no choice but to start studying data early and do exhaustive analysis of on-farm variety trials.

Gone are the days when a farmer and his consultant could observe how a variety performed for two or three years before deciding whether to plant it. Back then it was helpful if a new variety had a history of performance. Now there are so many variables that enter into the decision-making process for a farmer. How does the variety fit a certain soil type? Does it have enough vigor to get started in a specific growing environment? How does it handle weather or insect pests? How does earliness fit into the equation? Is it an early maturing variety? Is it a medium maturing variety? Or is it a full-season variety?

With all of the seed companies launching new varieties nearly every year, how can a farmer make an informed decision on what to plant? With the help of consultants and Extension specialists, we know that they have more assistance than ever before, and that's definitely a plus. We also know that it pays to study Official Variety Trial data. However, today's producer needs to accumulate as much information as he can from OVTs, on-farm trials and other sources. Why? Because his front-end financial investment is huge when purchasing seed.

On pages 9, 10 and 11, you can find specific data on all varieties being offered from the major seed companies by checking out our 2014 Seed Guide. You also can visit our website at www.cottonfarming.com and look for the monthly Web Exclusive story that goes into more detail about cotton varieties being offered next year.

As farmers always like to say, it's nice to have a lot of choices before making a decision on what variety to plant. And it's never too early to start studying those spreadsheets. Here's hoping that every cotton farmer across the Belt can find the right varieties for next season.

Be informed. Be diligent. And be proactive.

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.

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