Much as a coach studies his roster to pick the best starting lineup of players for an important game, cotton farmers pore over cottonseed offerings to choose the ones most likely to result in a successful season. The wheels start turning even as harvesters are running through the field. Farmers check the numbers on their yield monitors to see how each variety is doing pound-wise and later scrutinize grade sheets for quality performance.
In today’s cotton production environment, variety selection is touted as the most important decision a producer has to make in planning for the upcoming season. The rationale is that once the seed goes into the ground, the farmer is counting on a positive chain reaction as the season progresses. For example, if a variety has shown good performance on dryland fields, then producers in the Southwest may choose to plant it if they farm under these conditions. The hope is that the seed’s stamina will ultimately result in high yields and quality in a limited-
Another factor that has become more important to farmers — and to seed companies — is disease tolerance. In the article on page 12, Texas Rolling Plains producer Mark Wright says he has certain fields that have a history of Verticillium wilt. Taking that into consideration, he plants varieties there that have tolerance to the disease, hoping the plant-health chain reaction will be positive.
This is likely a good strategy because according to reports from Jason Woodward, Texas AgriLife Extension Service plant pathologist, and Terry Wheeler, Texas AgriLife Research plant pathologist, “Substantial yield losses and reductions in fiber quality (primarily micronaire, length, strength and uniformity) can result from severe infections.”
They go on to say, “Selecting partially resistant or tolerant varieties that possess the required agronomic characteristics and are properly adapted to a specific growing region is the cornerstone of any management program.”
As University of Tennessee cotton specialist Tyson Raper says, “Each variety brings with it a unique set of strengths and weaknesses.” With that in mind, it’s up to you to do your homework and choose varieties with the greatest potential for a positive outcome on your operation.
Best wishes for 2018!
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