Poor yield performance in cotton fields is attributed to a long list of issues, including that it’s just “bad dirt.” In many fields across the Eastern Cotton Belt, however, the culprit isn’t the dirt; it’s what’s in the dirt. Nematodes, particularly root-knot nematodes, rob bolls every year.
Here’s what you can do to take back your yield.
Nematodes are microscopic yield robbers whose impact is seen by looking for what isn’t there: a healthy root system. Guarding the root zone is essential to maximizing yield and profit potential. Growers can pair their knowledge and experience with innovative technology from Bayer to get the season started right, then apply their well-honed management skills to bring in a more profitable harvest.
The goal of a good nematode management program is to keep the population densities low during the critical early development phase of the plant, setting the stage for the healthy root system that’s essential to support a full boll load. Bayer Technical Service Representative Keith Rucker points out that Bayer offers three control options for nematodes: root-knot nematode resistant varieties, nematicide seed treatments and an in-furrow nematicide.
Consider nematode-resistant cotton varieties
How do you know when a field is under pressure from nematodes? Chances are your yield records will tell the story. For a definitive answer, growers or consultants should pull nematode samples at harvest. Even if those samples weren’t pulled, a root-knot nematode resistant variety is a first stop on the road to recovering lost yield.
Stoneville® 4946GLB2 is widely planted for its proven performance under pressure from root-knot nematode.
“In 2015, ST 4946GLB2 was the number one planted variety in the United States according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” notes Josh Mayfield, Bayer Regional Agronomist. “We found that in the Southeast it can take a lot of different soil types and even some increased stress levels. The other advantage that ST 4946GLB2 has held for us is it allows us to tackle that root-knot problem and control weeds in-season with two herbicide modes of action.”
Step up seed treatment by adding a nematicide
To finish strong, a cotton crop needs a vigorous start. Choosing the right seed treatment to protect from nematodes, diseases and pests is essential. COPeO™ Prime, a true nematicide that brings a new mode of action to the seed treatment segment, is available exclusively on Stoneville and FiberMax® cotton seed.
“COPeO Prime offers convenient, effective suppression in fields with low nematode pressure,” Rucker says. “A true nematicide, COPeO Prime kills a broad spectrum of nematode species.”
“COPeO Prime offers convenient, effective control in fields with low nematode pressure. A true nematicide, COPeO Prime kills a broad spectrum of nematode species.”
- Keith Rucker,
Bayer Technical Services Representative
A good seed treatment provides immediate protection to developing roots. That root system helps the plant withstand stress later in the season, so the early time period is key.
“According to a nematode survey done by the University of Georgia several years ago, about 80 percent of the cotton fields in the state of Georgia have some level of nematodes in them,” Rucker says. “Growers who plant their fields to Stoneville cotton seed get the added benefit of COPeO Prime in their base seed treatment to help suppress nematodes.”
In addition to COPeO Prime, Bayer offers these highly effective seed treatment options for controlling early-season pests and disease: Aeris®, Trilex® Advanced and EverGol® Prime.
Velum® Total increases profit potential under moderate to heavy pressure
Growers also have an in-furrow option, Velum® Total, for controlling nematodes and early-season pests, including thrips.
“For fields under moderate pressure from nematodes, Velum Total is an effective in-furrow treatment,” Rucker says.
In addition to promoting root health, Velum Total offers long-lasting control and systemic protection from nematodes and early-season pests, including thrips. Velum Total can be applied in variable rate and site-specific applications for economically efficient, customized treatment based on pest pressure.
Ultimately, the key as always is to know your field – and that includes understanding the level of nematode pressure. Then, pick a solid variety, match it with the right seed treatment and consider adding an in-furrow nematicide to enhance your opportunity for profit and increase your yield potential.