One thing Jimmy Bruton has noticed about a new cotton variety he's growing this year — it's big. Granted, tall cotton was not an uncommon sight in the Delta this year due to extremely favorable growing conditions in June, July and August. But Bruton's 60 acres of Delta and Pine Co.'s new DP 555 BG/RR has achieved its size despite receiving 34 ounces of Pix, the most of any field on the farm.

“It looks like it's going to take a little more Pix than the cotton we've been raising,” said Bruton, who farms with his family in Nitta Yuma, Miss. “We've treated it like our other cotton so far and it may have gotten a little tall on us.

“On a few spots we put it on some fresh (rotated) ground, and maybe we shouldn't have done that. That ground definitely needed more Pix and a little less fertilizer. Where we've had it on continuous cotton ground it looks pretty good.”

According to Don Keim, senior cotton breeder with Delta and Pine Land Co., the highly-touted variety “can get very tall, and management with Pix is going to be critical. Pix applications may need to get under way earlier in the season than with other varieties. Still, it doesn't get rank on you in terms of internode distance. What this plant does is put down a root system and builds a factory before it puts on fruit.”

This has created some anxiety among growers that the variety seems slow to develop. “Early in fruit set, you have a lot of small bolls, and they're spread out so they don't look like a lot,” Keim said. “It's really deceiving. Your early varieties are setting bolls and getting big while this one looks like it doesn't want to get started squaring. But it's building its factory. It usually starts fruiting on node 7 or 8.

“Since it takes a long time to build that factory, I'm not sure 555 is going to be an option in the northern part of the Cotton Belt,” Keim said. “You could run out of season. The best fit for 555 is going to be in the mid- to full-season markets.”

To keep plant size under control, D&PL will likely recommend an earlier-than-normal heavy dose of mepiquat chloride, followed by smaller doses as the season progresses. “If you see that it's getting out of control, it's probably too late,” Keim said.

The Brutons are also raising Paymaster PM 1218 BG/RR and Sure-Grow SG 105, a conventional variety.

Last fall, the Brutons cut stalks and subsoiled their cotton ground at a 45-degree angle. “We scratched the ground a little bit this spring and rowed up,” Jimmy said. Fertilizer was applied at 130 pounds per acre preplant plus a sidedress.

The Brutons hill planted their DP 555 BG/RR on April 20. Seed treatments included Gaucho, Early Harvest, Vitavax PCNB, Allegiance and Kodiak. The final plant stand 37,000 plants per acre.

Two over-the-top applications of Roundup were made early, then on May 23, the Brutons applied Bidrin for thrips.

On May 31, the crop was at the eight- to nine-leaf stage. On June 6, they applied 4 ounces of Pix and 1 ounce of Trimax (plant bugs). That application was repeated June 10 along with a quart of Roundup with a bullet rig underneath the plants.

The variety received a half inch of center pivot irrigation on June 6 and another half inch of rain fell on June 12.

A layby treatment of Direx and Roundup was made on June 20. An 8-ounce application of Pix was made at the same time. On July 3, they made another 8-ounce application of Pix.

Around the first or second week in July, the Brutons noticed that Pix applications were not holding the 555 as well as it was on other cotton.

On July 10, the crop was irrigated with three-fourths inch of water. On July 17, Baythroid and Trimax were applied. On July 19, the crop received 10 ounces of Pix, for a total of 34 ounces. The field received a 1-inch rain on July 23.

On July 26, three-fourths pound per acre of Orthene was applied to control plant bugs. On Aug. 5, a standard rate of Bidrin was applied for plant bug control.

By early September, the crop was maturing rapidly and by mid-September, the crop was open and almost ready for picking. But rains around Sept. 17 were making the Brutons a little nervous.

The Brutons had made two rounds with a picker before rains from Tropical Storm Isidore drove them out of the field in late September. Substantial losses occurred in the unharvested cotton crop on the Bruton farm as a result of the wind and rain.

Yield potential

According to Keim, the DP 555 BG/RR is the first in a line of new D&PL cotton varieties that achieve both high quality and high yield, several of them through exceptional turnout of over 40 percent. One percent turnout is equal to a 2.0 to 2.5 percent yield increase.

The variety was developed by cotton breeder Richard Leske at Delta and Pine Land's breeding program in Australia. The variety was also found to have wide adaptability over three years of testing in the United States.

Cotton breeders have often increased cotton yield by inadvertently breeding cotton lines with higher micronaire, according to Keim. As a result, varieties often slipped into the discount range for high mike under certain weather scenarios. This was especially true for earlier-maturing varieties.

“Generally, what breeders have run into up until this point is a negative association,” Keim explained. “When you push the envelope on yield, you push quality, either lower fiber length or higher mike, toward the discount range.

“DP 555 BG/RR is a unique answer to that problem,” Keim said. “We haven't seen this kind of quality in a high-yielding cotton in a long time. DP 555 BG/RR has good quality, good fiber length and good mikes, three-tenths to four-tenths below the mike for Paymaster 1218 BG/RR on average.”

All in all, Bruton and other Mid-South producer were impressed with what DP 555 BG/RR offered in yield and quality this season, but just weren't able to get all that potential into the picker basket due to the weather.


e-mail: erobinson@primediabusiness.com.