Delta and Pine Land Co.'s high-yielding DP 6207 Acala, available for the 2002 season, was only one variety seen up-close by San Joaquin Valley growers at the company's recent field day near Five Points, Calif.

DP 6207, which out-yielded the valley standard variety by 5 percent in University of California tests during the past four years, has high heat tolerance and withstands water stress better than most Acalas adapted to California, according to company spokesmen.

DP 6207 and the other varieties offer SJV growers a unique “one-stop shopping” for all variety needs, said Jim Willeke, D&PL's vice president for sales and marketing.

Jim Olvey of O&A, breeders of cotton varieties for D&PL, also detailed the strengths of a trio of Pimas, including HTO, DP 744, DP 340, and DP 5415 RR, the Roundup Ready Upland.

In addition to claiming the top earliness among Pimas, DP HTO, which stands for high turn-out, was the company's Pima sales leader for 2001, he said.

The short-statured plant produces a fiber whiter than most, resulting in a better grade, and is tight-locked to resist rain loss, Olvey said.

DP 744 Pima has mid- to full-maturity matched with consistently high yields on better soils. It produces a larger plant, and its excellent seedling vigor and good resistance to verticillium wilt makes it ideal for southern SJV conditions.

Latest variety

The medium maturity DP 340 Pima is the latest variety, released this year after claiming top scores on both D&PL and SJV Cotton Board tests in 1999 and 2000. It offers excellent growth and development in replant situations with ease in defoliation.

The highly diverse DP 5415 RR Upland is stress-tolerant and can handle most conditions found in the SJV. It has out-yielded the Cotton Board standard, Maxxa, by 109 pounds in UC advanced strain tests.

Olvey said the seed-breeding industry is adjusting after the termination during the past 15 years of federal and state sources of cotton germplasm.

“The result is we don't have the tools we need to develop new varieties, so one of our major efforts in the last three or four years has been to go around the world to accumulate as much germplasm as possible.”

Foremost in their campaign is obtaining the entire 20,000-line, Russian germplasm collection, featuring very different genetics, such as Pimas having four-lock bolls. Crossing these with other three-lock Pimas, the breeders hope to arrive at a larger, four-lock cultivar.

Another trait from the collection is the columnar plant configuration now being developed in D&PL Pimas and Acalas. Olvey said columnar efficiency is unique in that a plant may have about 30 bolls, no lateral branches, and as few as 17 leaves. They are working to learn how the lines perform with plant populations of 60,000 per acre.

The Russian lines have fuzzy seed that can go directly from gin to feedlot without crushing, he said. “That's maybe only a savings of $5 a ton, but every dollar counts, and we are looking at putting this attribute into Acalas and Uplands to see what it does.”

Recalling that they collected Pima lines from Egypt many years ago, Olvey said mills repeatedly claimed Egyptian lint quality was superior to that of U.S. cotton. “But when we compared with the Egyptian cottons, we knew we had them beat in length, strength, and fineness.”

Wrong assumptions

The reason for the mills' impression, he said, was the Egyptian growths were indeed whiter, leading to assumptions the less white U.S. lint was somehow dirty and inferior. In response, D&PL used genetics for much whiter lint and higher grades in its HTO.

Returning to the Russian germplasm collection, Olvey said they have new assortments of genes, making theirs the largest collection of Acala and Pima germplasm in the world. Meanwhile, they continue search for refinements for the Upland collection.

Among other plans for improved Acala varieties, Olvey said they plan to have the Roundup Ready feature in DP 6207 “within the next year or two.”

An obstacle in developing a Roundup Ready Acala, he explained, is the Coker 312 carrying the herbicide-resistant gene and used in the cross. It has considerable problems with seed-coat fragments, and Acalas historically have the same weakness. When the two are crossed, the trait can be worsened. He said they are taking the extra time to avoid seed-coat problems.

D&PL is also screening for a Roundup Ready Pima and has several lines in progress. Since Pima is a separate species, inserting the Roundup Ready gene is extremely difficult and most crosses fail to produce commercially acceptable yields.

Boll Box container

Growers saw demonstrations of the company's new Boll Box container for bulk cottonseed handling. It will be available with all D&PL cotton varieties for the 2002 season, and the company has offered an early order plan.

The D&PL green and yellow Boll Box plastic container has a capacity of 2,000 pounds, or the equivalent of 40 bags of seed. Transported on a trailer, it is taken to the field to rapidly load planter boxes without handling and disposal of paper bags.

Seed is delivered from the bin to planter boxes via a tubular, electric motor-powered conveyor capable of traversing though 180 degrees. It features a PVC belt to avoid seed damage, often caused by vacuum, plastic cup, or brush auger conveyors.

Details on the implement, manufactured by Speed King, Inc. of Dodge City, Kan., can be obtained by calling 1-800-511-SEED.

e-mail: dbryant@primediabusiness.com