The central focus of the Agricultural and Environmental Research department at Cotton Incorporated is identifying and addressing issues cotton producers see having an impact on their farms. One issue they recently identified, through an electronic “Producer Priority Survey,” was the lack of objective data and evaluations on new varieties.
Producers indicated having timely access to objective information about new cotton varieties as one of their highest research priorities. The lack of this information can be linked to the rapid turnover of Biotech varieties.
“Prior to the introduction of Biotech cotton, conventional varieties remained on the market for five to 10 years,” says Kater Hake, vice president of agricultural and environmental research for Cotton Incorporated. “Extension specialists, consultants and producers had time to evaluate them and recommend the best for each region.
“Since that time, new Biotech traits have driven a rapid turnover of many varieties, which limits the long-term testing for yield stability.”
So, in 2012, Cotton Incorporated addressed the need for information with a pilot field program where new cotton varieties were evaluated in replicated, large-plot trials on fields in the Southeast, Mid-South and Southwest United States.
Expanded Approach Will Help
“Our approach was to compare 10 to 12 new and standard commercial varieties at each location,” says Bob Nichols, senior director, agricultural and environmental research for Cotton Incorporated. “We are making a best effort to provide the test data quickly, using a standard format.”
To make data available in a timely manner, using a standard format, Cotton Incorporated joined forces with SeedMatrix (a variety data and analysis tool of the Context Network) and launched a new web-based data tool that enables producers to review and analyze yields and fiber quality of the most recently released cotton varieties.
Website Will Provide Extensive Data
“SeedMatrix is a very well known and respected firm that provides variety evaluation data,” says Nichols.
Interested parties can view the website by going to http://seedmatrix.com/CottonIncRegistration, and access is free to all cotton producers. To access the site, users will be required to log-in with the standard username and password system. The kind of information housed on the site includes: location, soil type, some conditions of culture, yield data and fiber quality data.
In addition, analytical tools are available where the user can compare information by looking at variety versus variety. The data can also be manipulated to see types of trials in a given area, therefore seeing how a variety may have performed regionally or nationally.
The Cotton Board, which administers the Cotton Incorporated Research and Promotion Program, contributed information for this article.