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.

Bayer CropScience cottonseed

Bayer CropScience’s Fibermax brand is the second most planted nationally, followed by Dow AgroScience’s Phytogen brand, Americot, Bayer CropScience’s Stoneville brand, Dyna-Gro, and All-Tex., reports the USDA.

USDA reports that Bayer CropScience’s Stoneville Upland varieties have 13 percent of the Arizona market share. The company’s FiberMax Upland brand has a 9 percent market share (22-percent combined).

Ninety-nine percent of the U.S. cotton crop is transgenic varieties. 

Cotton growers turned out in strong numbers at the Bayer CropScience Cotton Field Day hosted by David Stambaugh at Stambaugh Farms in Eloy (Pinal County).

Kenny Melton, Bayer CropScience principal agronomist, led the field tours, showcasing Stoneville 4946GLB2 in its commercial debut this year on the Arizona market.

“Stoneville 4946GLB2 is an early- to mid-maturing variety designed to replace Stoneville 5458B2RF and Stoneville 4498B2RF. Stoneville 4498B2RF has been a mainstay in Arizona,” Melton said.

Stoneville 4946GLB2 produced better yield and fiber quality than the two other varieties in Arizona field tests, Melton says, plus has tolerance to the root knot nematode.

Stoneville 5458B2RF should be on the market for a few more years while supplies of Stoneville 4498B2RF will be limited next year.

“We are not replacing Stoneville 4498B2RF lightly,” Melton said. “We know we have to out yield it. We believe Stoneville 4946B2RF will outperform Stoneville 4498B2RF.”

Stoneville 4946GLB2 cotton holds slightly tighter in the burr than Stoneville 5458B2RF.

At another stop, Melton said Stoneville’s 6448GLB2 variety is a mid- to full-season variety with good fiber quality and yield.  

“Stoneville 6448GLB2 is unique since the Stoneville line did not previously have a variety in this maturity class. Stoneville 6448GLB2 is more of a full-season variety with good yield and fiber quality.”

2013 is the first year on the commercial market with limited seed availability for Stoneville’s 4946GLB2 and 6448GLB2 varieties. Melton says plenty of seed will be available next year.

On the FiberMax side, FiberMax 1944GLB2 is an early- to mid-season maturity but more on the mid side, Melton says. It comes out of the same background as FiberMax 1740B2F, but is a slightly longer-season variety with more aggressive growth.

“FiberMax 194GLB2 has significantly better fiber quality than FiberMax 1740B2F,” Melton said.

Dow AgroSciences Phytogen offerings

Turning to Dow AgroSciences, the company’s Phytogen Upland varieties with an agronomic fit for Arizona include PHY 375WRF and PHY 499WRF, says Dow’s senior sales representative John Reding. These varieties are Dow’s top sellers in Arizona and Southern California.

USDA says Dow Phytogen has a 14-percent Arizona market share.

PHY 375WRF, in its fourth year on the commercial market, is an early- to mid-maturity, easy to grow and manage variety with good heat tolerance, Reding says. The variety has performed well in central and western Arizona.

PHY 499WRF is a mid-maturity variety with good heat tolerance which has performed well in yield trials and commercial plantings. Reding says PHY 499WRF is a popular variety in Arizona and Southern California, and was the top variety planted in the U.S. in 2012 and 21013. 

PHY 339WRF is an early maturing, somewhat determinate variety introduced this year with a columnar, upright growth pattern. 

Reding says performance data on PHY 339WRF from plots and several commercial fields will be shared during Dow meetings with growers in January.

PHY 367WRF is another early maturing, bushy variety with medium height which has performed well in eastern Arizona.

Dyna-Gro cotton varieties

With about 2 percent of the Arizona market is Dyna-Gro cottonseed, a proprietary product from Crop Protection Services (CPS). Dominic Antongiovanni, CPS’ south-west division seed manager, shared the following cottonseed varieties for the Arizona market.

DG 2570 is a smooth-leaf, broadly adaptable, medium maturity variety with vigorous growth. It performs well in sandy and silt ground and adapts well to sub-par growing conditions.

Antongiovanni says DG 2610 offers a medium-to-full maturity with a semi-smooth leaf and a semi-tall plant type. It also grows well sandy and silt loams. Maximizing production with growth inhibitors is recommended in the early-growth cycle to maximize yield.

The DG 2595 variety offers medium maturity with a semi-smooth leaf and medium-to-tall plant height.

DG 2595 and DG 2285 have high yield potential under intense management, says Antongiovanni. DG 2285 is an early-maturing variety with a good fit for the short-growing season in the Yuma area and behind grain in Coolidge.

cblake@farmpress.com

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