Sunday, May 26, 2024

3 Keys To Successful Variety Selection

Dr. Joel Faircloth

Pfafftown, N.C.

We are now “in the short rows” of making variety selection decisions. This may be the most critical decision a producer makes. Let’s take a look at three elements of variety selection.

Field History

Variety selection should be done on a field-by-field basis. A variety that is a rockstar in one field may not work as well under different conditions down the road. Consider soil type, pest and disease pressure and rotation history. Consider varieties with strong storm tolerance in at-risk areas to protect yield potential. Look at unusual conditions that may have affected the field in question in previous years. Was yield affected by something unrelated to variety selection? Might a different variety have handled things like drought or disease differently? Consider these questions when evaluating a variety that underwhelmed in the past.


A proven method for choosing varieties is to select those that perform consistently over several years in multiple locations. A good rule of thumb is to, when possible, analyze at least three years of data from multiple locations. While a farmer in the Texas plains may not normally be interested in how a variety performed in South Carolina, performance data across a variety of locations under a variety of conditions indicates consistency.

Sources of data include university Official Variety Trials, also known as OVTs, and large-scale field studies. Supplemental information can be gained through replicated strip trials done by seed companies and in county plots. Module plots also provide real-world data. Again, care must be exercised in assessing the data.

Study the data. Measure local experience. Factor and filter coffee shop talk. Remember to take into consideration weather events or pest infestation that impacted a given year’s data.

Agronomic Factors

Agronomic factors such as plant height, growth potential, maturity and response to plant growth regulators also affect yield potential. Under stressful conditions, indeterminate varieties offer the advantage of spreading the fruiting window over a longer, more forgiving period of time.

The breeding team at PhytoGen is committed to releasing varieties that have been extensively tested over many years under a wide range of conditions. New varieties aren’t released unless the group is confident in its ability to meet producer demands consistently. Cotton farmers can be confident that PhytoGen is on the leading edge of technologies and varieties to deliver outstanding fiber quality and yield potential.

Click here to ask Dr. Joel Faircloth a question or submit a comment about this month’s Cotton Consultant’s Corner.

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