The families’ investment in NemX is based on the variety’s good-quality cotton and yield. Yet perhaps more important is NemX’s resistance to the southern root knot nematode (RKN) soil insect, Meloidogyne incognita. NemX is a non host for RKN.

According to the University of California’s IPM Online website, the southern RKN is a microscopic roundworm which attacks the cotton plant’s root system resulting in galls (overgrowths). Galls interrupt the ability of roots to absorb water and nutrients.

At the Buttonwillow farm, NemX is planted in rotation with carrots, potatoes, and wheat. NemX lowers the RKN population which protects the vegetables, especially the carrots.

“NemX has kept nematodes from getting a foothold in the field. It breaks their life cycle,” Selvidge said. “Since we switched to NemX, we have not had significant root knot nematode damage in carrots.”

The farm follows a three-year crop rotation. Fields are planted in a spring potato crop harvested in the late spring to early-to-mid summer. Carrots are then planted followed by a late November to mid-January harvest window. NemX cotton is planted in the spring. After harvest, winter wheat is grown for a June harvest. The cycle is repeated the following year.

“Carrots and potatoes are high-value crops which on average gross about $5,000 per acre,” Selvidge said. “Potatoes can generally tolerate a two-year rotation, but carrots are more disease sensitive.”

NemX cotton is not a big money maker for Selvidge compared to many other crops today which fetch higher prices. For example, Selvidge says three-bales of cotton sold at $1 per pound would net about $1,500 per acre. NemX yields about one-half bale per acre compared to current cotton varieties.

It’s the long-term benefit that NemX cotton brings to the overall farming operation.

“Losing half a bale of cotton is not as significant as losing a carrot field which has a much higher per acre value,” Selvidge said. “If you put a disk to half a carrot field due to nematode damage you just paid for a lot of cotton.”

The farm is looking at other cotton varieties, even other crops, for when the NemX supply is exhausted. “We are still exploring our options. For now, we are sticking with cotton and probably will if cotton prices head higher.”

Speaking of prices, Selvidge is confident that cotton price futures, at about 75 cents per pound at press time, will soon gain upward strength.

“I believe cotton will go on a price run sometime next year and will catch up with the price of other farm commodities in the world.”

Selvidge gins the crop at Farmer’s Cooperative Gin Inc. in Buttonwillow. The crop is marketed by Jess Smith and Sons in Bakersfield.