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Tough Season, Good Finish on Texas Coast
Farming cotton on the Texas coast between Corpus Christi and Houston can be rewarding, yet unpredictable. The area can receive ample rainfall over the course of a year, but when and how much it will rain are the unknowns.
For cotton grower Shane May in Port Lavaca, the past three growing seasons have been roller- coasters in terms of weather, but his cotton yields have been consistent. When Hurricane Harvey hit hard on May’s cotton fields in 2017, his dryland cotton averaged three bales per acre. In 2018, he managed to get his crop harvested one day before the months-long rains set in and averaged 2.5 bales per acre.
The 2019 season began wet, but once fields dried out, May planted into good moisture. His fields received adequate rainfall and heat units until mid-July, when the rainfall stopped. Drought affected May’s cotton crop throughout the rest of the summer. After his 1,150 acres were picked and ginned, he averaged out at two bales per acre.
“Considering everything that happened this season, I am pleased with a two-bale crop on dryland ground. We primarily plant DP 1646 B2XF. It is the workhorse of the Deltapine® lineup, reliable and easy to manage with PGR applications made early at pinhead square.”
DP 1646 B2XF has set the performance bar that May looks for other varieties to meet when doing plot work.
“It’s a very good performer for us and won our test plots again in 2019,” he said. “It produces very good fiber quality. Our 2019 bales of DP 1646 B2XF received 4.5 cents over the loan value based on grades. The variety handles drought stress very well. I didn’t think it would make much after the drought began this season. But, it held on and produced a lot of cotton.”
May partners with the Deltapine brand to conduct plot work. He saw DP 1646 B2XF the year before it was commercialized and began planting it based on yield and fiber quality performance, as well as the XtendFlex® Technology it contains. In 2016, his fields were beginning to experience resistant weed pressure. The ability to add dicamba to his herbicide program—because he plants Deltapine varieties with XtendFlex Technology—has made a very positive impact on his operation. Weeds can be managed with the use of preplant residual herbicides and in-crop applications of dicamba and glyphosate.
Over the past two seasons, heavy bollworm pressure has been experienced on farms in his region. In 2019, May and his scout confirmed bollworm pressure in one of his cotton fields, which had to be sprayed once with insecticide to get them under control.
“We may have been overly cautious, but anytime worms are feeding, the cotton is suffering damage, so we sprayed Prevathon® [insecticide] and it worked well,” he said.
May, a Deltapine brand plot cooperator, is eyeing the cotton varieties with Bollgard® 3 XtendFlex technology he’s evaluating in his plots — new and pre-commercial. In 2019, he planted DP 1845 B3XF and did not have to spray it for bollworms. While the yield was not quite as high as DP 1646 B2XF, the fiber quality was on par.
“In my 2019 plots, I looked at Deltapine Class of ’20 variety candidates with Bollgard 3 XtendFlex Technology, and there are a couple of earlier-maturing varieties I could have picked 10 days before the rest of my crop,” says May. “Their yield was right there with DP 1646 B2XF. We like to have the crop out by first week of September, so early maturity and that kind of performance is what we need.”
The Deltapine Class of ’20 varieties will be announced in mid-December. The variety candidates have demonstrated yield potential greater than or equal to DP 1646 B2XF, and they’ve shown outstanding fiber qualities with more disease tolerances than previous classes. Five of the nine candidates being evaluated in Texas are moderately tolerant or tolerant to Verticillium wilt.