Thanksgiving is still a month away, yet Arizona cotton growers are already licking their chops at a feast of higher prices, acreage expansion plans in 2011, and selecting seed varieties for specific growing conditions.

Several hundred cotton growers and allied industry representatives were all grins in late September during a Monsanto-Deltapine cotton field day in Casa Grande, Ariz. Optimism gushed for an industry that just several years ago faced annual statewide double-digit acreage reductions.

One-dollar cotton futures and expanded acreage plans in 2011 was the message overheard repeatedly as growers discussed the future of cotton in Arizona.

Monsanto representatives bent growers’ ears on the company’s latest varieties and technology in the pipeline as folks toured Deltapine brand variety plots aboard tractor-pulled wagons. Donny England, Sierra Farms, was the field day cooperator.

Dave Albers, cotton germplasm manager, Monsanto, St. Louis, Mo., gave kudos to the company’s variety standard in Arizona for the last several years, DP 164 B2RF, developed in Deltapine’s Arizona breeding program.

“DP 164 B2RF offers the combination of heat tolerance and consistent yields especially in the irrigated central Arizona desert for growers looking for a mid- to full-maturing variety,” Albers said. “The variety has great fiber quality, a good staple length at 36 and longer, and good strength at about 30 grams per tex.”

Paul Sawyer, Monsanto’s territory sales manager, said DP 164 B2RF is the top cotton variety sold in Arizona by all seed companies for the last several years.

Albers showed off several Class of 09 varieties for the Arizona market, including DP 0935 B2RF, a smooth leaf, mid-maturing variety with good heat tolerance. DP 0935 B2RF is a nectariless variety which is less attractive to lygus, a top pest in Arizona cotton. The variety has a staple in the 35 to 36 range plus a 29 gram per tex strength.

Other Class of 09 varieties include DP 0949 B2RF, a mid-to-full maturing variety which features taller columnar fruiting (bolls closer to the main stem) and light leaf hair. The staple length is 36-37 range; fiber strength is about 29 grams per tex.

Albers says DP 0912 B2RF is a solid choice from the Class of 09 for the early-season cotton market in the Yuma area.

“DP 0912 B2RF provides early vigor and fruits up strong; an excellent choice in the Yuma market where cotton is harvested early to allow for winter vegetable planting.”

Deltapine’s Class of 10 includes DP 1032 B2RF, a mid-maturing variety for growers able to push for higher yields.

“Growers looking to push their cotton into the higher yield range – 3.5 or more bales per acre - and who have the water and fertility should consider DP 1032 B2RF,” Albers said.

Also from the Class of 10 is DP 1044 B2RF, a mid-maturing variety that emerges strong, is easily managed, has good heat tolerance, and excellent vigor.