Farmers have a wide selection of varieties to choose from when deciding which ones would be best for their farm.
Cotton farmers are urged to look on the internet at www.ntok.org. to see which cotton varieties have performed the best. Both large and small plot tests have been conducted on cotton varieties across Oklahoma, Randy Boman,Oklahoma State University cotton research director and Extension cotton program leader at the Southwestern Research and Extension Center south of Altus, said.
Variety trials also give growers a good idea of profit potential for a given variety, he said. The difference in net value per acre between the variety at the bottom of the trial and the one at the top is typically more than $100. he said.
“Several varieties at the top of the trial may not be significantly different,” he said. “And many of the varieties perform well across a wide geographical area.”
Disease resistance has become an increasingly important concern for farmers, he said. There is some Verticillium wilt in the state, but not a lot of Fusarium wilt and bacterial blight and there isn’t a fungicide for spraying over the top for wilt control, he said. Genetics is the best, and only, answer, he said.
The key for variety selection lies in knowing field conditions, history and management capabilities and then studying variety trials to determine the best match for a particular field.
“Farmers have a lot of varieties to choose from,” he said, “with many good options. Many are arguably the best varieties we have ever been able to plant.”
Cotton farmers surveyed by Cotton Inc. stated the top five items to be considered when putting in a cotton crop include input costs, herbicide-resistant weeds, variety selection, drought and heat tolerance and early weed control.
All of these needs have some link to variety testing, Boman said. The goal is to have complete variety package to reduce production risks, he said. Three factors, agronomy, pathology and entomology, are all considered when testing cotton varieties, he said.
Agronomic traits should mean good production potential across a large geographic area. Pathology considerations should include disease and nematode resistance and entomology includes resistant traits like Bollgard II, Widestrike and TwinLink.
“All of these characteristics should be part of the variety selection process,” he said. “Storm resistance is also a big deal in the Southwest.”
Cotton variety selection has come a long way since 1995, Boman said. In 1995, 100 percent of all the varieties planted were conventional varieties. Since then, Oklahoma farmers plant 100 percent transgenic varieties. These varieties are Bt and Widestrike varieties and producers are planting 98 percent stackied varieties including both herbicide tolerant and insect resistant varieties, he said.
Producers should concentrate on production potential and also quality when selecting a variety, he said. The benchmark for cotton varieties has changed over the years. The minimum considerations now are 35 staple, 28 grams per Tex, 3.8 to 4.5 micronaire, 82 to 83 length uniformity, 31 color and three leaf. Boman said these fiber property goals can be met or exceeded with the genetics of the varieties now planted. Length uniformity and sometimes bark contamination are factors farmers still struggle with, he said.