PhytoGen wants to show its cotton is more than ‘one-horse’ wonder

PhytoGen’s cottonseed has been known in recent years in the Southeast mostly for its widely-planted PHY 499 or PHY 375 varieties. But a cotton development specialist with the company says its portfolio and pipeline offer growers much more than a one-shot deal.

“Today, we have considerable varieties that really challenge our flagship variety PHY 499, which still is one of the best dryland varieties,” said Steve Brown, cotton development specialist with PhytoGen, at the company’s Diamond Showcase in Chula, Ga., in July.

At the event, Brown talked about several varieties but highlighted PHY 333 WRF, PHY 444 WRF, PHY 487 WRF, PHY 495 W3RF and the brand new PHY 552 WRF. The cotton varieties at the Dow AgroSciences demonstration plots were planted May 9 and received three PGR applications before the week of July 6.

“Our yield data, confirmed by university results, shows we are extremely competitive, extremely consistent over time and locations. We’re excited about expanding our portfolio well beyond 499 to bring early and late varieties as well as those with root-knot resistance and the next generation of worm traits with Widestrike 3,” Brown said.

Touting seed vigor, Brown spoke about PhytoGen seed’s “cool germ” number, which is determined by subjecting the seed to a constant, marginal temperature of 64.5 F degrees. The cool germ indicates seed emergence and vigor; the higher the number the better. The industry doesn’t want to sell seed with a cool-germ number below 60 percent. “Over the last several years, averaged across all our upland lots, our cool-germ number was around 85 percent, which is considered excellent numbers for stand establishment and getting the crop off to a good start,” Brown said.

PHY 333 WRF, introduced last year, is early to mid-maturing with strong stand establishment and high yield potential on irrigated land and pretty good on dryland, too. It’s an aggressive grower, but may be a little easier to manage with PGRs than 499, he said, with better fiber quality than 499.

PHY 444 WRF will be available in 2016, Brown said. Its yield and fiber quality potential is the strongest of the lot. On an on-farm trial in Terrell County, Ga., the variety went four bales per acre. “I never picked four-bale cotton,” he said.

The variety can bring a staple of 39 to 40 with a micronaire of 4.0 with a smooth leaf, which can go for some pretty good premium prices, he said.

PHY 495 W3RF is a three-gene Bt product to enhance worm control, particularly bollworm (corn earworm) and, with multiple-modes of action, preserve Bt technology in cotton a little longer. This variety has WideStrike 3.

PHY 427 WRF and PHY 487 WRF are the root-knot-nematode resistance offerings and are suited for the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, Brown said. Both are early maturing varieties with high quality and yield potential in fields with root-knot-nematode pressure.

In late July, USDA deregulated, or gave the OK, to Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist cotton trait in the United States. Enlist cotton provides tolerance to Enlist Duo herbicide, the proprietary blend of new 2,4-D choline and glyphosate. The trait also has tolerance to glufosinate.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved Enlist Duo for use with Enlist corn and soybeans. The EPA registration for Enlist Duo for Enlist cotton is pending. Pending the regulatory approvals, Dow AgroSciences expects to launch Enlist cotton in PhytoGen cottonseed in 2016.

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