Bayer CropScience is calling the first year of its Certified FiberMax Cotton program a success. Bayer introduced the program to help growers capture the enhanced value of lint grown from FiberMax cotton seed.

“We started this program to protect the brand name of FiberMax and its reputation for quality,” said Brent Crossland, Certified FiberMax marketing manager. “Prior to Certified FiberMax, more lint was being sold under the FiberMax name than was possible based off the amount of FiberMax seed planted.”

The FiberMax reputation and the enhanced value from the Certified FiberMax program helped FiberMax cotton varieties acquire a 24 percent market share among planted acres in the United States in 2004, according to Bayer CropScience figures.

“We've worked hard to build the FiberMax brand throughout the last six years,” said Monty Christian, director of marketing for FiberMax. “This is an exciting time in the industry. Growers can count on FiberMax to provide cotton varieties that produce quality and yield.”

As a result of those efforts, Christian said, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service data shows FiberMax has now become the second-most planted cotton seed brand in the United States.

Crossland said the growing perception of Certified FiberMax has paid off in increasing demand for U.S. cotton growers both in the United States and overseas. He noted comments by cotton merchant William B. Dunavant Jr. that FiberMax varieties are commanding a premium of several cents per pound.

Dunavant told participants in the annual Engineered Fiber System Conference last spring that overseas mills consider FiberMax more of a standard than the actual HVI fiber characteristics that define it.

“While there is more demand for FiberMax, it is important to note that international spinners in particular are now specifically requiring Certified FiberMax cotton on an ever-increasing basis,” said Crossland. “Those spinners know that the best way to insure they are getting genuine FiberMax lint is to purchase Certified FiberMax cotton.”

Another example of demand for FiberMax includes recent Chinese cotton purchases. China, which suffered losses in yield and quality to bad weather in 2003, bought high-quality cotton from West Africa, Uzbekistan, Australia and domestically from California and Arizona and, specifically, buying Certified FiberMax.

Crossland said Bayer CropScience has made concerted efforts to generate more demand for FiberMax, including presentations to international merchants and spinners in Gdansk, Poland; Liverpool, England; and Milan, Italy.

Last summer, Bayer CropScience held a Certified FiberMax Summit in Singapore, bringing together many of the world's leading experts on cotton quality. More than 70 spinning mills and 30 merchants from 12 countries heard presentations about FiberMax and its unique spinning characteristics.

“This was the first-ever world summit of its kind devoted to U.S. cotton quality and changes in the market, said Crossland. “We have certainly noted that interest in Certified FiberMax cotton has picked up since the Singapore Summit, and we will continue to promote Certified FiberMax lint overseas at no cost to the farmer.”

Crossland noted that The Seam, an online trading firm for buyers and sellers of cotton, reports that offerings of Certified FiberMax brought growers a premium of 13.44 cents per pound over the base Commodity Credit Corp. loan rate of 52 cents per pound.

To collect potential premiums for Certified FiberMax cotton, growers must be signed up for the program. While grower participation was excellent, according to Crossland, Bayer CropScience was encouraging all growers of FiberMax to certify.

“There is no cost for the grower to sign up and participate,” he said. “There is a little paperwork involved, and we've made it even easier than last year.”

Growers who participated last year should have received a member card and Certified FiberMax signup sheet with his account number. Growers will still need to complete the signup sheet and send or fax it along with receipts from 2004 FiberMax cotton seed purchases to Certified FiberMax headquarters in Lubbock, Texas.

Growers who did not participate in the program last year but planted FiberMax cotton seed in 2004 also received a member card and Certified FiberMax signup sheet via mail. They will need to fill out the sheet and return it with their receipts. This will activate their account number.

At harvest, all growers must give their Certified FiberMax account numbers to their gins. The gins will then report each grower's Certified FiberMax bales to the Lubbock office. Once a grower's FiberMax cotton is certified, those bales will be tagged and uniquely identifiable as genuine FiberMax lint, Crossland said.