When the West Texas crop year ended, the variety you chose either validated that you made the right choice back in the spring, or confirms that you should’ve tried another one.
Consultant Justin McGee of Amarillo, TX, says selecting the right variety is critical for his area that has a 3,600-foot elevation and the short growing season that comes with it. “We typically start cool,” he says. “Our clay soils stay cold and they crust. It’s not an ideal germination situation.”
To meet these adverse growing conditions head-on, McGee and his growers have been planting varieties better adapted for the region. “We like the NexGen germplasm; it’s West Texas stripper-type cotton,” McGee says. “The true stripper germplasm comes out of the ground better under my cool conditions.”
McGee also likes the yield potential: “Last year my best NexGen cotton made 31⁄2 bales per acre. Many fields made 1,200-1,400 pounds per acre. In a year like this where we are behind on heat units and everything is in rotation with corn, if we can average 1,100 pounds and still make 240-bushel corn on the other half of the circle, we will have had a great year.”
McGee notes that the High Plains has experienced some issues with low micronaire over the last five or six years with the modified picker-type varieties that are moving north in West Texas. “When you (plant) some of those modified picker cottons in an attempt to chase higher fiber quality in a low heat environment, low micronaire can jump up and bite you. Although some of those modified picker cottons have done well downstate, we don’t want to plant too much of them up here because there’s nothing that will hurt you worse than a 37 staple with a 2.7 mic.”
In years past, McGee recommended NexGen’s NG 1553 RR and NG 2448 RR; both straight Roundup Ready cottons. But his area has made a huge transition to Roundup Ready Flex varieties, and his growers want Flex on every single acre. “This (past year I mostly had) NG 1572 RF, which is an early-maturing, very determinate stripper-type cotton with the Flex gene,” he says. “NG 1572 RF performs well in our short growing season. All NexGen cotton has a short enough maturity that we don’t get hung out.”
Farther south of McGee, producer Scott Harmon of Idalou, TX, also has been growing NexGen cotton for several years. He has noticed the consistent performance in seasons with varying environmental conditions.
“During the growing season – May through August – we had a rainfall of 11.72 inches,” Harmon says. “Less than 10% of our cotton acreage was dryland.
“In 2006, I had 950 acres of (NG 1553 RR and NG 2448 RR),” he continues. “The rainfall during that 4-month period was 5.56 inches, and they were all irrigated acres. Still we averaged 755 pounds to the acre and the loan was 55.91.”
In 2007, Harmon again planted 980 acres of NG 1572 RF – a straight Roundup Flex cotton – and plans to go all Flex in 2008. “I had only 500 acres out of 3,500 that were not Flex, and I won’t do that again,” he says. “With 3,500 acres of cotton, we don’t have the manpower to treat that much cotton in a timely fashion.”
Weather extremes make Roundup Ready Flex varieties an important option.