Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Varieties Prove Big Success Against Nematodes

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Ron Taylor (second from right) says PhytoGen® brand PHY 443 W3FE has helped him manage reniform nematodes and improve yields by 150 to 200 lb./A compared to a competitor variety on his farm in 2022. A fifth generation farmer, he grows 1,800 acres of cotton in the Tallapoosa River Farms partnership with family members (from left) Mark Taylor, Jody Haggard, Josh Simmons and Brent Timmerman.

Nematodes are sneaky pests — too small to see and often the cause of hard-to-diagnose yield loss. If you suspect low fertility or drought stress, nematodes could be the root of the problem.

Ron Taylor of Tallapoosa River Farms in Tallassee, Alabama, pinpointed the issue years ago through soil testing, so his challenge wasn’t the diagnosis — it was finding a good solution.   

“We know we have nematodes all over the river bottoms that we farm — they’re everywhere,” Taylor said. “We’re dealing with reniform nematodes 90% of the time, but we also have a few root-knot fields. The numbers are high enough to affect our cotton crop, especially under stressful conditions.”  

Nematicides and seed treatments never solved the issue, so Taylor was interested when he heard that PhytoGen® cottonseed was planning to launch varieties with built-in resistance to reniform and root-knot nematodes. Several years ago, he worked with his PhytoGen cotton development specialist to plant a trial with an experimental reniform-resistant variety, and he immediately saw a yield increase.

“The cotton came up and you could see the difference all year long. It was 6 inches taller than the susceptible varieties,” Taylor said. “When we defoliated it, you could see it was good cotton, and it was 250 pounds better than the rest of the plot.”

Since that first year, Taylor said he’s seen similar results in his annual on-farm variety trials, but the real proof came in 2022 when he planted PhytoGen® brand PHY 443 W3FE on about 900 acres. The variety is resistant to both reniform and root-knot nematodes, as well as bacterial blight. In 2022, PHY 443 W3FE yielded up to 1,350 lb./A, an excellent yield considering 80% of their ground is dryland.  

“In 2022, PHY 443 W3FE performed the same across the farm as it did in the trials,” Taylor said. “I picked one of the most popular competitive varieties side by side, and PHY 443 W3FE beat it by 150 to 200 pounds. I also put PHY 443 W3FE in a competitor’s trial, and it beat everything in that trial.”

Not Just For Nematodes

In addition to reniform and root-knot nematode resistance, Taylor said the Enlist® weed control system works well on his farm. When the Enlist® trait was being launched in PhytoGen® W3FE varieties, he visited demonstrations in Georgia and the Mississippi Delta to learn more about the system. Those visits gave him confidence in the
system and Enlist® herbicides. 

“We use Enlist One herbicide, Liberty herbicide and glyphosate, and Enlist One is good on weed control,” Taylor said. “I’ve tried spraying dicamba with competitive varieties, but Enlist One cleans out of the tank easier. And you don’t have to worry about volatilization like other products. As long as it hits what you’re spraying, you’re good.” 

Planting new varieties with a different herbicide system came with a learning curve, and Taylor said he relies on PhytoGen Cotton Development Specialist Russell Nuti, Ph.D., to answer questions and get insights on varieties. That’s appreciated, and something he believes sets PhytoGen cottonseed apart.

“The big thing with PhytoGen is the dedication of the employees. If I call, they answer; if I need something, they are here. You don’t get that from every company. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Russell and everyone at PhytoGen. They treat you right.”

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