Deltapine NPE Program Kicks Off Sixth Season of Variety Development

The Deltapine New Product Evaluator (NPE) program kicks off its sixth year this season with growers evaluating seven different variety candidates for the Class of 14, including three new lines bred for root-knot nematode resistance.

“In just five years the NPE program has resulted in the commercialization of some of the top-planted varieties by growing region across the Belt,” said Keylon Gholston, Deltapine cotton products manager. “That’s because Deltapine varieties are proven to perform in the NPE program before they are commercialized. They are proven by farmers representing all regions and raising cotton in various farming conditions. NPE farmers have been evaluating the newest genetics for five years. This year, they will evaluate variety candidates containing the newest genetics and the newest traits.”

In 2013, a limited number of NPE farmers located in nematode-affected areas will evaluate variety candidates bred to be resistant to root-knot nematodes. More than 639,000 bales were lost during the 2012U.S.cotton crop due to damage from root knot nematodes, according to the Cotton Disease Loss Committee Report delivered at the 2013 Beltwide Cotton Conference – a yield loss for farmers of 2.5%.

NPE farmer Greg Sikes in Brooklet, GA farms fields with sandy soils where nematodes are a regular problem. In these fields, spots being affected by root-knot nematodes are visibly noticed across the plant stand in early summer. With the popular aldicarb product, Temik, no longer available, control is down to crop rotation or using hard-to-handle, more expensive chemicals.

“Seed treatments and breeding for root knot nematode resistance are the way to go,” said Sikes. “The cotton industry has proven it can provide new technologies such as Bollgard and others that work and offer real benefits to farmers. New technology that helps us manage root-knot nematodes will be very beneficial and I am anxious to see how these variety lines work in our fields.”

 Nematodes are a real problem and farmers have fewer control options, according to NPE farmer Duwane Billings, who farms irrigated fields with sandy soil south ofLubbockinSeagraves,TX.

“I am excited about seeing these new varieties resistant to root-knot nematodes and hope they can return the yield potential that we lose in these fields,” he said.

The Deltapine NPE program has become a reliable field evaluation program for the cotton industry, continuing its work with 200-plus farmers evaluating pre-commercial variety lines. Each farmer is given enough seed to grow at least a module-worth of cotton per variety candidate. These farmers manage the plots as they would manage the rest of their farm, offering both the farmer and the Deltapine cotton development and commercialization teams a true picture of a variety candidate’s performance potential. Only the variety candidates that are proven by NPE farmers to have better yield, quality and performance than current commercial offerings will be named for Class of 14.

Since its inception in 2008, the Deltapine NPE program has resulted in the commercialization of top-planted varieties such as DP 1044 B2RF, the number-one planted cotton variety inTexasin 2012, and DP 1252 B2RF, a leading yielder in the lower Southeast. Other popularly-planted varieties from the NPE program include DP 1219 B2RF, DP 1137 B2RF and the ever-consistent DP 0912 B2RF.

“Any time you can do field trials that are more than 6 rows in size, it is very valuable,” said Sikes. “In the Southeast, we have a mix of soils, sandy, clay and areas of fields with good topsoil. Twelve rows over, soil profile can change drastically. NPE trials are 6- to 8-acreplots and allow you to prove a variety’s performance potential in a real-farm setting. The program has resulted in some very good varieties for this region.”

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