Acala BXN Nova is now an approved San Joaquin Valley Acala cotton variety and that should bring an extra two- to three-cent-per-pound premium in the marketplace over what the cotton grossed last year when it was a non-approved “California upland.”

“Maxxa is the parent of Acala BXN Nova. All of the tests have shown that Acala BXN Nova has very similar yield and quality characteristics to Maxxa,” according to Bill Van Skike, president of California Planting Cotton Seed Distributors (CPCSD).

It is the first variety transgenic BXN variety approved by the San Joaquin Valley Cotton Board.

Buctril 4EC brand herbicide can be applied directly over-the-top of BXN varieties to control broadleaf weeds. Buctril does not control grasses.

Last year about 40,000 acres of Nova were grown in the valley.

“In the past two years of University tests, Acala BXN Nova performed at a level consistent with Maxxa, which is a recognized standard for San Joaquin Valley Acala cotton varieties,” said Van Skike.

“We really like the BXN System,” says Ryan Torigiani, a grower near Buttonwillow, Calif. “It's enabled us to clean up a lot of fields that had heavy morningglory pressure. The board's approval just makes it that much more attractive for us.”

Growers have a wider spray window with the BXN System than with Roundup Ready varieties where Roundup can be applied only up to the fourth true leaf. BXN cottons can be treated until 75 days prior to harvest.

“It gives us a lot of flexibility to clean up a field,” says Larry Starrh, a grower near Shafter, Calif. “The system is very convenient and easy to use. One of the things I like the most about it is that you can spray Buctril and see your results almost immediately. From a management standpoint, that's a very nice feature. If we have any skips in the application, we can go back and clean it up right away.”

Expensive hand labor

Morningglory and nightshade are two of the most troublesome weeds for California cotton growers.

Jeff Yribarren grows cotton near Tranquility, Calif., His biggest weed problem is nightshade.

“The first time we put a hand crew through the field, it costs us about $30 to $40 per acre,” he says. “Normally, we have come back with another hand crew, and that can cost us an additional $20 to $40 per acre. Sometimes, we even have to come back a third time. It's an expensive proposition.”

Starrh's primary weed problem is morningglory. In past, he has also been forced to rely on hand crews to clean up fields. “With the minimum wage going up, there's no way we can put a hand crew in a field and beat what we're spending on the BXN System,” he says.

Yribarren has grown both Acala BXN Nova and BXN 47, a “California Upland.” Last season he grew 11 different varieties.

“We try to diversify our cotton operation as much as possible,” he says. “That helps give us protection from factors that are beyond our control such as weather. BXN 47 is a shorter season variety.”

BXN is not an Acala BXN Nova, “but it is a very good yielding variety and it matures quickly. It's the weed control that makes both varieties a very good fit in our operation. We're not going to grow as many different varieties this year, but we'll definitely continue to grow BXN 47 and Acala BXN Nova,” said Yribarren.

In the SJV cotton board's official variety trials, Acala BXN Nova yielded an average of 1,494 pounds of lint per acre in 1999 and 1,474 pounds in 2000, which was similar to Maxxa. The quality and spinning data for Acala BXN Nova was also similar to Maxxa.

“We're very excited about the potential for this variety,” Van Skike says. “Transgenic technology has dramatically improved the grower's ability to manage weeds efficiently and economically. Now that Acala BXN Nova is an officially recognized variety, there should be some significant marketing advantages as well.”