The San Joaquin Valley Cotton Board has given its blessings to three new varieties to be called Acala cottons.

Delta & Pine Land Co.'s DP 6100 RR, California Planting Cotton Seed Distributors (CPCSD) C-192 and Phy 78 from Phytogen Seed Co. received the Acala stamp of approval from the board in March. All of the cottons have been grown commercially in the valley. Now they'll be called Acalas and will receive a marketplace premium.

“We're seeing real advances in Acala cottons, with great improvements in quality and yield,” said Norm Clark, chairman of the board's quality committee, which reviews test program data and makes recommendations to the full board on variety releases.

Final approval to release the new varieties must come from the secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

The new “approved” Acalas join a list of more than 40 other “approved” cottons in the six county Quality Cotton District. Any cotton can be grown in the valley since the old one-variety law was changed three years ago, but each variety comes with a moniker from the quasi-governmental regulatory body.

‘Sjv Acala’

Cottons passing muster in a board-directed three-year testing program and declared “superior in some meaningful way” are called either “SJV Acala” or “SJV Pima” title. Others are called “California Uplands” or “California Pimas.”

Phy 78 won its wings primarily because it was the highest yielding cotton in the board's testing program. It averaged 1,425 pounds of lint per acre, almost 100 pounds more than Maxxa, the district standard for Acala cotton.

C-192 showed improved quality characteristics over Maxxa and outyielded it by more than 50 pounds of lint per acre in valleywide tests.

DP6100RR finally won approval as an Acala. It was turned down last year. It has grown commercially in the valley for several years and was used earlier in the board's valley-wide testing of the Roundup Ready gene. It was the lowest yielding cotton in last year's large-scale trials. However, it won approval because of its trait — resistance to Roundup. It becomes only the second Acala with the Roundup Ready gene in it. The other is Riata from CPCSD.

No Pimas

No Pima varieties were recommended for commercial release.

Seven varieties progress to their third year in 2002. They are: CPCSD's C-102, C-104 and C-105; and Olvey & Associates' OA-261, OA-262, OA-263 and OA-265. Eight varieties moved into their second year of board testing. Nineteen varieties entered the screening phase, or first year, of testing.

The board rejected recommendations to replace Maxxa and S-7 as the valley “standards” against which new cottons are judged for Acala and Pima designations.

Not ‘lower bar’

“Two other varieties, Phy 72(Acala) and Phy 76 (Pima,) were suggested to replace the standards but the feeling of the quality committee is that we would be lowering the bar with either,” Clark said.

Maxxa last year finished just three varieties from the bottom in the 16-variety trial of new Acalas. Phytogen 72 is expected to capture more than 50 percent of the valley's Acala acreage this season, and Maxxa has almost faded into obscurity over past three years because of its low yields compared to newer varieties. S-7 finished next to last in the Pima trial.