In conjunction with its 40th anniversary, PhytoGen has announced that PhytoGen Horizon Network (PHN) growers will plant the industry’s first reniform-resistant cottonseed varieties in their on-farm trials in 2020.
A first for the cotton industry, these PhytoGen pre-commercial varieties include the PhytoGen Breeding Trait for reniform resistance, which offers built-in, season-long protection against reniform nematodes. PhytoGen Breeding Traits are naturally occurring, native traits that protect plants against common yield-robbing pests and diseases.
“Forty years ago, PhytoGen was formed with a commitment to develop varieties and technologies to help cotton growers produce consistently high yield potential and excellent fiber quality,” said Hank King, PhytoGen General Manager. “With the PhytoGen Breeding Trait for reniform resistance, we’re looking ahead to how PhytoGen will help U.S. cotton producers thrive for another 40 years.”
During the 2019 season, PhytoGen cotton development specialists conducted on-farm trials evaluating reniform resistance. The reniform-resistant varieties demonstrated exponential yield gains compared to susceptible varieties in fields infested with reniform nematodes. These same varieties also produced exceptional yields and fiber quality in environments without reniform nematodes.
“The PhytoGen Breeding Trait for reniform resistance will be a significant benefit for producers,” said Dr. Jason Woodward, PhytoGen Cotton Development Specialist for the Mid-Atlantic. “They will see a considerable increase in yield potential in fields with reniform nematodes. In our internal reniform trials, the resistant plants were larger and noticeably healthier all season long, and these varieties produced substantial yield increases compared to industry-leading, non-resistant varieties.”
King said reniform-resistant cotton varieties will greatly benefit growers across the Cotton Belt. Extension experts estimate that reniform nematodes cause annual cotton losses of more than 250,000 bales, with the greatest losses occurring in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas.
“In areas where reniform nematode populations are highest, the PhytoGen Breeding Trait for reniform resistance could return previously abandoned cotton acres to production,” King said. “These varieties will help give cotton producers the opportunity to profitably farm cotton again in fields with intense reniform pressure.”
After the initial year with PHN growers, PhytoGen plans to commercially launch reniform-resistant varieties in 2021. As with all PhytoGen W3FE varieties, the reniform-resistant varieties will include additional PhytoGen Breeding Traits for bacterial blight resistance, root-knot nematode resistance and Verticillium wilt tolerance.
“The PhytoGen breeding team set the goal to bring reniform resistance to the cottonseed market in high yield potential germplasm, and our PHN growers will get to experience this innovation in 2020,” King said. “We could not think of a better way to celebrate 40 years of business than to offer another solution to help our customers thrive in cotton.”
Four Decades of Cottonseed Innovation
PhytoGen was founded in 1980 by the J.G. Boswell Company to improve the overall economics of cotton production. Through varieties with high yield potential and desirable fiber characteristics, PhytoGen quickly became the gold standard of Pima varieties and still sells more Pima cottonseed than any other seed company.
In 1997, Dow AgroSciences joined with J.G. Boswell to establish PhytoGen Seed Company, LLC. The combined expertise and resources allowed PhytoGen to expand research and development, and the investment paid off with a succession of industry-changing quality advancements and trait integrations such as the first Roundup Ready and Genuity Roundup Ready Flex Pima cottonseed. PhytoGen also was the first company to provide Pima varieties tolerant to Fusarium Race 4.
PhytoGen expanded its reach into the upland market in the 1990s and has since developed numerous successful varieties, such as top planted varieties PHY 375 WRF and PHY 499 WRF. The company also brought new insect management technologies to U.S. cotton producers with WideStrike Insect Protection and WideStrike 3 Insect Protection – the first three-gene Bt trait in cottonseed.
In 2016, PhytoGen introduced the successful integration of the new Enlist herbicide cotton technology trait, providing growers with a herbicide system to combat glyphosate-resistant and hard-to-control weeds.
What’s Ahead for PhytoGen
With this history of innovative yield protection, PhytoGen continues to solidify its leadership position in native traits with PhytoGen Breeding Traits. King said PhytoGen’s core mission is to advance varieties that can help generate a consistent return on investment for its grower customers. This customer-focused mentality brought PhytoGen Breeding Traits to fruition and will drive future innovations.
“We foresee a day in the near future when every PhytoGen brand variety we offer comes with built-in protection against root-knot nematodes, reniform nematodes, bacterial blight and Verticillium wilt,” King said. “We want to take those problems off the table for our customers, so they can focus on what they do best – managing these varieties for even higher yield potential and excellent fiber quality.”
Based on information provided by PhytoGen