Start Now for Profitable Cotton Production

Start Now for Profitable Cotton Production

Cotton is more than a crop. It’s a way of life. You grow cotton because you love it – you might say it’s what you were born to do. But ultimately, you grow cotton to build a business, build a farm and build a home. In 2014, we began a partnership with Cotton Grower magazine that became the Raising More Profit series. Over the course of the year, we offered events, news articles and videos to provide information to help you increase profitability on your farm. In this issue, we’ll look at some of the early season topics we covered and provide you with links to additional online information.


For cotton growers farming in areas with historic nematode infestations, the profitability equation begins before planting. At the Tifton, Ga., Raising More Profit event in 2014, Dr. Bob Kemerait, University of Georgia Extension pathologist, said growers need to do three things:

  1. Know what type of nematode is on your farm and where those populations are found
  2. Reduce nematode populations to take pressure off your cotton crop
  3. Pick a nematicide appropriate for nematode populations for greatest ROI

Kemerait pointed out that there are several possible investments that growers can consider to successfully battle nematode problems – choosing a nematode-resistant cotton variety, using nematicide seed treatments and, if needed, adding other nematicide treatments in areas of high nematode populations.

Growers have options for nematode management. One is the Crop Science package of nematode-resistant cotton varieties, Aeris® insecticide/nematicide seed treatment and the newly registered in-furrow product, Velum® Total, for one of the most complete programs on the market.

Aeris provides improved seedling health, increased grower production flexibility and the broadest spectrum protection available against early season insects, including thrips, aphids and moderate populations of nematodes. Aeris provides up to 28 days of thrips protection; up to 42 days of aphid protection; suppression of early season fleahoppers and plant bugs; and up to 28 days of protection against low-to-moderate nematode populations.

Velum Total is a new insecticide/nematicide from Crop Science for use in cotton and peanuts in the 2015 season. It is available only in the Southeast for the 2015 season, with a full product launch expected in 2016 throughout the South from Texas to Virginia.

It promotes early season crop establishment by preventing nematode and insect damage and enhancing root health. The product has demonstrated strong residual performance on early season insects, such as thrips, and can help reduce the need for additional foliar sprays.

In university trials over multiple years, Velum Total provided greater yield response than the historical standard Temik® in both cotton and peanuts.

2012-2014 / Cotton / Average yield across all conditions

2012-2014 / Cotton / root knot and reniform nematode fields

Varieties Offer Profit Saving Option

Growers can raise yield and profits on nematode-infested fields by planting a nematode-resistant cotton variety. Crop Science offers three nematode -resistant varieties — Stoneville® ST 4946GLB2, FiberMax® FM 1320GL and FM 2011GT — for excellent yield potential under heavy nematode pressure.

In fact, in a 2013 Texas AgriLife Research nematode variety trial conducted by Dr. Terry Wheeler, ST 4946GLB2 and FM 2011GT had the lowest number of nematodes at the end of the season.

ST 4946GLB2 is well adapted across the Cotton Belt and offers great nematode resistance from Georgia to West Texas. FM 2011GT is a Texas High Plains variety with excellent nematode resistance, high yield potential and great fiber quality. FM 1320GL was introduced in 2014 and early indications show resistance to root knot nematodes as well.

For more information about cottonseed varieties from Crop Science, visit the FiberMax and Stoneville variety overview pages.

Water Management

In the High Plains of Texas, the key to profit may be determining the best value and efficiency for water timing. Dr. Jim Bordovsky, Texas A&M AgriLife Research irrigation engineer, studies water management options and spoke to growers at the 2014 Lubbock, Texas, Raising More Profit event.  

The results he shared from a multi-year study on water use efficiencies from pivot irrigation were interesting.  

“We tend to want to apply water early in the season and store water in the soil profile for use later in the growing season,” he said. “It’s tough to do that.”

The four-year study concluded in 2014 and measured various irrigation capacities during several in-season irrigation periods to see how they impact yield. Three different irrigation rates were measured – zero water, 1/8 inch per day and 1⁄4 inch per day – and applied to test plots during three distinct growth times: the vegetative period that goes to about 950 heat units, the reproductive period that extends to 1,350 heat units and the maturation period.

The results – based on 2013 numbers – showed higher water rates during the later part of the season, especially reproductive and early maturation periods, gave better yields and water value.

Variety Selection is Key

If you are looking for varieties to help maximize profitability on dryland or limited irrigation, FiberMax cotton varieties are known for their excellent drought tolerance and water use efficiency in the Southwest.

Whether you plant on dryland or heavily irrigated acreage, FiberMax helps maximize water to produce high yields and excellent fiber quality. In the Southwest, Stoneville also has proven itself in tough, low-water conditions.

FM 2011GT, FM 9250GL and ST 4946GLB2 perform well under those circumstances. For top-end yield potential in heavy irrigation scenarios, FM 1830GLT, FM 2322GL, FM 2334GLT, FM 2484B2F, FM 2011GT and ST 4747GLB2 have proven success.

Despite the loss of Temik, Bob Kemerait explains how effective nematode control is still possible by using multiple tools. Listen to Kemerait’s nematode control tips now. 

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