By Carroll Smith
The bulk of the cotton acres in Tennessee fall within Tipton, Fayette, Madison, Hardiman, Haywood, Crockett and Lauderdale counties. Dow AgroSciences and PhytoGen experts recently held a reporter field day just inside Haywood County to share their latest seed, trait and crop protection strategies.
Tennessee cotton farmer Kevin Earnheart also spoke at the event. Earnheart — along with his father — farms 6,135 acres of cotton in Crockett County. He proudly emphasizes that their farm is 100 percent cotton planted to 100 percent PhytoGen varieties.
“This is my 24th cotton crop and my dad’s 53rd,” he says. “In 2017, we planted 490 W3FE, 330 W3FE, 340 W3FE, 300 W3FE, 333 WRF and 312 WRF. We have grown PhytoGen varieties for years and have always been pleased with their performance.
“Our farm is in a no-till system and has a range of soil types. Because 490 is aggressive, I plant it on my thinner soils with the lowest level of organic matter. I put 333 on my better ground, and it it makes cotton every time. I plant 312 and 340 on the irrigated acres where these varieties have consistently shown better performance.”
Earnheart also is pleased with the Enlist trait being included in PhytoGen germplasm since he and his father battle glyphosate-resistant pigweed. “With the Enlist weed control system, we gained a tool that allows us to wipe out this pest,” he says.
Chris Main, PhytoGen Mid-South cotton development specialist, provided a performance update on current PhytoGen varieties and a sneak peek into what’s ahead.
“PHY 333 WRF, PHY 312 WRF and PHY 444 WRF are still strong performers in our portfolio,” he says. “And since the current WideStrike 3 Enlist offerings come from a similar background as 333 and 312, we feel they will have a good fit anywhere that these two do.
“Our goal is to bring improved quality to the yield and trait expectations our farmers have for the current portfolio,” he says. “And although we have two trait platforms now, all of the varieties going forward are being transitioned to WideStrike 3 Flex Enlist.”
Stewardship Is Key
Jonathan Seibert, Dow AgroSciences Enlist sales leader, says new, innovative weed control strategies are important because weed resistance is not going away. He says one of the advantages of the Enlist weed control system is that it also allows glufosinate to be applied.
“If larger pigweed — beyond 4 to 6 inches — is present, we recommend a sequential application of Enlist Duo
followed by glufosinate,” he says.
Seibert also says the company is committed to continuing its farmer outreach and education to steward Enlist Duo. He emphasizes the importance of farmers having their sprayers set up properly, being cognizant of and monitoring wind direction and temperature inversions and understanding how to use Enlist Duo with residual herbicides to get the best weed resistance management.
Realizing A Long-Term Goal
Russell Nuti, PhytoGen Southeast cotton development specialist, says their breeders have done a good job in a relatively short time of advancing yield and incorporating new genetic traits into variety offerings. PhytoGen breeders also are focusing on bringing forward products with important native traits, such as bacterial blight resistance and root-knot and reniform nematode resistance.
“One of PhytoGen’s long-term goals is to bring Pima-like quality to the upland market,” Nuti says. “It’s challenging to grow a high-yielding variety and still produce very fine micronaire. PHY 444 is the first variety in which breeders have put together a durable, irrigated, dryland, wide-footprint variety that has long, strong and fine fiber. We’ve set the bar pretty high with 444 and are excited to have some lines out of the 444 background with the WideStrike 3 Enlist package.”
Derek Racca, PhytoGen brand manager, wrapped up the morning by showing off a set of Red Land Cotton sheets to the crowd.
“This family farming enterprise in Alabama has recently launched ‘farm to fabric’ heirloom-quality cotton sheets that are fast gaining notoriety for their outstanding comfort,” he says. “And PhytoGen is proud to meet the very high standards of this program.”
To learn more about Red Land Cotton, visit www.redlandcotton.com.