Extension cotton specialists make the case about this time every year: Variety selection is the most important decision cotton producers will make as they get ready to plant.
That annual advice, almost a cliché at area and regional production meetings, comes with a bit more urgency this year as producers look at some new variety options that include new technology. They also face a market that’s, at best, disappointing. And they will plant their first crop under a new farm law that leaves cotton dependent on insurance to cover price or yield losses.
Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension state cotton specialist, College Station, says every other decision a cotton farmer makes during the growing season will relate in one way or another to the variety he selects.
Fertility, moisture management, weed control, insect management, plant growth regulator application rate and timing, harvest date and quality characteristics depend in part on the variety planted.
Morgan, speaking at the recent Red River Crops Conference in Childress, Texas, recommended that growers plant multiple varieties, based on data from multiple years of trials and across multiple locations.
“Choose technology based on specific field challenges and production expectations,” he added. “Choose varieties that can help you spread risk and are complimentary to one another.”
Randy Boman, research director and cotton Extension program leader at the Oklahoma State University Southwest Research and Extension Center in Altus, said variety selection this year should take into account the loan value, weed control issues (including new herbicide-tolerant technology), and potential to reduce various production risks.