Based on good attendance at cottonseed company field days this fall in Arizona, cotton growers are leaving the door open to plant cotton next year amid growing crop competition, the 14th consecutive year of state-declared drought, and other factors.

Growers are weighing cropping options to make the best decision for the year ahead.

Arizona cotton acreage – about 160,000 acres this year – is about 40,000 acres less than the year prior (20 percent less). Acreage is almost all Upland varieties except for about 1,000 acres of Pima cotton.

In early October, cotton growers, ginners, and other cotton aficionados came out in full force for the Monsanto-Deltapine Cotton Field Day held at Sierra Farms in Casa Grande (Pinal County), hosted by owner Don England, Jr.

In true cotton-farming fashion, tractor-pulled wagons carted growers alongside field trials as David Albers, Monsanto’s production development manager for cotton germplasm, discussed current the most popular Deltapine Upland varieties.

“DP 1044 B2RF is the most widely planted variety in Arizona and Texas,” Albers told the crowd. “DP 1044 B2RF is a mid-maturity, easy-to-manage variety which has great yield potential and excellent quality. The consistency of the crop is what attracts growers to this variety.”

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DP 1044 B2RF is planted on 36 percent of Arizona’s cotton acreage. Pima cotton represents about 1,000 of the total.

“The variety’s heat tolerance and limited water performance make it a good variety for Arizona and Texas,” Albers said. “It performs very well in limited water situations.”

The trailer stopped next at the DP 1359 B2RF plot, a taller, full-season variety with good yields. Albers says the variety dominated the 2012 University of Arizona cotton trials and has performed well in Texas. The fiber length is similar to DP 1044 B2RF.

“If growers have the water supply and can push the crop full season, DP 1359 B2RF can deliver amazing yields,” Albers said.

He later shared that a Central Arizona grower who participated in Monsanto’s New Product Evaluator program last year harvested seven bales of cotton per acre with DP 1359 B2RF.

A third stop was the rows planted with DP 1219 B2RF, a mid- to mid-full season variety for Arizona which entered the commercial market last year. Plant maturity falls between DP 1044 B2RF (mid) and DP 1159B2RF (full).

Albers said, “DP 1219B2RF brings a good combination of yield and fiber quality. It is a staple-length longer than the other two varieties and has slightly lower micronaire.”

These three varieties came out of the Monsanto’s Arizona breeding program.

Deltapine seed is planted on 58 percent of Arizona’s cotton acreage this year, according to the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Cotton and Tobacco Program.Deltapine cottonseed is the most planted in the nation with 33 percent of the acreage.