Yield and fiber quality are not mutually exclusive, and FiberMax Cottonseed spokesmen say its 2002 cotton variety releases back up that theory.

Researchers at the Aventis Cottonseed International's (ACSI) Delta Research Station, south of Leland, Miss., held a field day to showcase the company's four new commercial cotton variety that are scheduled to be released in time for the 2002 growing season.

Leading the company's 2002 variety releases are FiberMax 958 and FiberMax 966. Both conventional varieties were bred specifically to produce high yields and improved fiber quality in the Mid-South region.

“Both FiberMax 966 and FiberMax 958 are conventional varieties, but there's nothing conventional about them. The only reason these two varieties are labeled as conventional is because they don't have the Bt or Roundup Ready gene in them,” says Lee Rivenbark, sales and marketing manager for FiberMax Cottonseed in Collierville, Tenn.

An indeterminate cotton plant, FM 958 is a broadly adapted variety with a compact growth habit and large bolls. The company says its indeterminate nature is appropriate for high-yield situations with early-season management and pivot and furrow irrigation.

FiberMax 958 performs very much like an early-maturing variety with high-fiber quality characteristics, which the cottonseed company says is “much harder to find.” The recommended planting area for the 958 variety ranges from North Carolina to California.

In comparison, FM 966 is a mid-maturity determinate which sets bolls rapidly. This variety reportedly responds well to early irrigation and Pix applications when necessary. The company recommends the 966 variety for those growers in the Mid-South, as well as parts of the Southeast and Texas.

One difference between the two varieties is in their fruiting patterns. The 958 variety fruits like a Christmas tree, filling out the bottom and then moving up the plant. Company officials say FiberMax 966 fruits more in layers, a difference growers may want to consider when making their cottonseed selection.

According to Rivenbark, his company reached an agreement with Monsanto in March 2001 which will allow for the release of two new transgenic varieties in 2002. One of the scheduled releases, FM 989BR, is a stacked gene variety, while the other, FM 832B, is an okra leaf variety that contains the Bollgard gene.

The company, it says, will first entice those growers in the south Delta and parts of east Texas who have experience growing FiberMax's 832 conventional cotton variety to try its new 832B variety.

Like its counterpart, FiberMax 832B promises good fiber quality and a high-yield potential in an okra leaf variety. The new twist, though, is that 832B also allows growers to obtain season-long budworm protection with the addition of the Bollgard gene.

“FM 832B will offer growers in Texas and Louisiana high-yield potential with the Bollgard gene, to protect more bolls, even at sub-threshold levels,” the company says.

Rounding out the list of new releases is FiberMax 989BR. A stacked gene variety offering both the budworm protection of Bollgard and the weed control protection of Roundup Ready, FM 989BR has shown high-yield potential and excellent fiber quality in company variety trials.

FiberMax says, “FM 989BR has a distinctive appearance with dark green leaves and large bolls set in a semi-cluster configuration. It has also shown good tolerance to Verticillium wilt.” The recommended planting region for this new stacked gene variety includes the south Delta, parts of the Southeast, Texas and California.

“When we started out, product placement was very important. We took the cottonseed varieties we had and placed them in different areas. Now, with these new varieties, we have cotton that is at home in the Mid-South,” says Jane Dever with breeding and product development for FiberMax in Collierville, Tenn.

Jeff Gwyn, director of research for Aventis Cottonseed International in Leland, Miss., says his company is setting its sites on being one of the top two cottonseed providers by 2005. “We are a seed company with a strong breeding program across the United States and the world, and we have the best germplasm in the business,” he says.

The cottonseed company's mission, Gwyn says, is to provide growers with new transgenic and conventional varieties with high-yield potential and improved fiber quality.

“We are not going to put new technology into old varieties. The reason we are in the cottonseed business is biotech,” he says. “In the long run, we want to be able to offer more technologies than anybody else. We want to have everything the other guys have and more.”

Rivenbark adds, “We believe we do have something exciting in the FiberMax business. We are committed to the cottonseed business and believe we can deliver value to growers in both the short and long term.”


e-mail: dmuzzi@primediabusiness.com