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Evaluate Fields for Silent Yield Robbers

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PhytoGen® brand varieties contain PhytoGen Breeding Traits™ that offer built-in protection against some of the most common yield-robbing pests and diseases found in cotton.

  • All PhytoGen® W3FE varieties are resistant to bacterial blight.
  • Additional protection from root-knot nematodes and verticillium wilt is available in select Upland varieties.
  • All PhytoGen Pima varieties provide tolerance to Fusarium (FOV) Race 4.
  • In the near future, protection from reniform nematodes also will be available in select Upland varieties.

Clemson University nematologist Dr. John Mueller, who has studied nematodes for years, says you can drive by a field where nematodes are present and not notice anything unusual until the damage translates into a yield loss at the end of the season.

“Yield losses of 10% within a field are common and often go unnoticed,” he says. “And yield losses in an individual field can exceed 50%.”

South Carolina cotton farmer Wade Atkinson says, “If you have nematodes, planting a PhytoGen brand variety with nematode resistance is the way to go.”

Maximize Yield Advantage
Jason Woodward, Ph.D., PhytoGen cotton development specialist for the Mid-Atlantic region, says, “In fields where producers have identified a root-knot nematode problem, we are maximizing yield advantage by planting varieties with the PhytoGen Breeding Trait for root-knot resistance. Nematode populations are being reduced in the soil for subsequent years as well.”

Cotton producer Wade Atkinson farms with his nephew, Ricky Atkinson, in Lee County, South Carolina. He says root-knot nematode is present over most of the farm, especially where they grow cotton behind cotton. To combat this pest, Wade plants root-knot nematode resistant varieties, such as PHY 350 W3FE, which is a two-gene root-knot nematode resistant variety. In addition, recent nematode samples indicated high populations of reniform nematode throughout his farm as well.

He has used crop rotation to help break the nematode cycle. Wade also plants wheat cover crops and uses conventional tillage to promote soil moisture retention.

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“We are trying several approaches to help increase cotton yields, especially in dryer years,” he says.

In 2018, Wade had a couple fields in continuous cotton and noticed the yield was down. So in 2019, he planted 350 acres of dual-gene root-knot nematode resistant PHY 350 W3FE and had a first look at the newly named PHY 400 W3FE, which is also a root-knot nematode resistant variety.

“Mitch Binnar, our PhytoGen territory manager, brought in an experimental variety with reniform resistance to see if that would help with the nematode problem,” he says.

After the reniform fields were harvested on Wade’s farm, the results showed a 20 to 216 pounds-per-acre increase with the experimental reniform resistant variety when compared to susceptible varieties.

Reduce Nematode Populations
Woodward says in the Mid-Atlantic region, yields were higher for experimental PhytoGen brand varieties with reniform resistance compared to non-reniform resistant varieties in all comparisons, ranging from 20 to 356 pounds per acre. Resistant varieties reduced reniform populations at the end of the season by 42% to 71% compared to susceptible varieties.

“This looks to be very consistent with other data I have seen across the Cotton Belt — about 200 pounds per acre yield advantage and a 60% to 80% reduction in nematode populations,” he says.

Based on his own PhytoGen experience, Wade says, “If you have root-knot or reniform nematodes, planting a PhytoGen brand variety with nematode resistance is the way to go. And if you have any drought at all, planting nematode resistant seed will give you a bigger yield and healthier roots all season long. That stronger root also will help if you have any drought stress. We are blessed with good seed technology.”

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