WITH COTTON prices down again for a second year, farmers are already asking what varieties they need to plant next year in order to be profitable. “When the price was 75 cents per pound or greater, seed choice didn't make a lot of difference, because it was easier to make money raising cotton,” says Randy Dismuke, senior vice president for Delta and Pine Land Company. “That isn't the case anymore.”

According to Dismuke, the most successful farmers today have one overriding question: which varieties will make me the most money? “The bottom line is net profit per acre. The farmer knows from experience that certain varieties are better than others are for specific conditions and operations. Right now, when he concentrates on net profit per acre, he chooses varieties, either conventional or transgenic, that consistently deliver high yields with the least amount of inputs under a wide range of conditions.

“In today's market, the most important indicator of success is yield, followed by fiber quality,” Dismuke says. “When you get to the bottom line, a high yielding variety with base quality fiber will result in more profit per acre than an average yielding variety with better quality. The future, however, lies with planting varieties that have both high yields and high fiber quality and that is where D&PL is placing its emphasis.”

D&PL already has mid-full season varieties of this type, but will be introducing new products — both conventional and transgenic — in the next two years that will have higher yield potential, including mid and early season varieties.

Dismuke says D&PL has traditionally been the market leader in developing new cotton varieties. The company developed the first high yielding early varieties and is poised to be the first to combine a broad range of germplasm that have both high yielding and high fiber quality traits. It was also the first cottonseed company to introduce Roundup Ready®, Bollgard® and stacked Bollgard/Roundup Ready traits into cotton varieties.

Utilizing a winter nursery program, it currently takes D&PL 9-10 years to bring a new transgenic product to market. Historically, it takes 10-12 years to develop and bring a new variety to the farmer.

Farmers are already looking at new D&PL seed varieties with an eye for even higher yield and fiber quality potential to help them stay profitable. Making step changes in these areas is something in which D&PL breeders and agronomists have invested a great deal of time and research. At a recent field day in Scott, Miss., farmers got a look at the following new D&PL varieties, including some experimental lines.

Early Season Cotton Varieties

PM 1199 RR is a high yielding, very early maturing, medium- to short-statured, semi-smooth leaf Roundup Ready variety that has a very good fiber-quality package. Yield performance has been outstanding throughout its testing, particularly in the northern Cotton Belt.

SG 521 R is an early maturing, hairy leaf, Roundup Ready variety with excellent seedling vigor. It has medium to tall plant height and is widely adapted to different soil types. The storm resistance of open bolls is rated very good.

SG 521 R has both outstanding yield performance and good disease tolerance, including good tolerance to both Fusarium wilt and Verticillium wilt.

SG 215 BG/RR is a very high yielding, early maturing, stacked-gene variety with smooth leaves and very good seedling vigor. It is widely adapted to various soil types and farm practices, including conventional, minimum till, ultra narrow row and skip row.

In head-to-head comparisons with other early maturing stacked-gene varieties, it consistently was the highest performer, both in lint yield and value.

Mid-Full Season Varieties

DeltaPEARL is a mid-full maturity variety that is primarily adapted to the southern tier of the cotton belt, but has shown outstanding performance as a full season variety in the upper Southeast (N.C. and northern S.C.). This variety has out-performed all other major conventional mid-full varieties throughout the Belt in terms of lint yields. It has exhibited excellent yield and fiber qualities, and its crop values are superior to other conventional mid-full season competitor varieties.

Beltwide averages for DeltaPEARL's staple length are superior to most of the competitor varieties. DeltaPEARL also has an impressive disease tolerance package that includes tolerance to Fusarium and Verticillium wilt and resistance to bacterial blight, race 18.

DP 491 is a mid-full season, conventional variety intended for the Mid-South and Southeast markets and the full season areas of Texas and Oklahoma. It has smooth leaves, premium fiber quality and a diverse germplasm background. It has outstanding and consistent yield performance as well as excellent length and strength. This variety has good tolerance to root knot nematode and Fusarium wilt.

DP 448 B is a mid-full season picker variety with superior yield, high turnout and wide adaptation. It has medium plant height with smooth leaves, good storm resistance and resistance to Verticillium wilt. Both staple length and micronaire are very good.

DP 555 BG/RR is a variety to watch. This stacked-gene, mid-full season variety has an extremely high yield potential with excellent turnout and a very good fiber package. It has smooth leaves and is adapted across the Belt. This variety is being introduced in 2002 and is expected to be commercially available in 2003.

New Experimental Lines In Development

These lines have new genetics and represent material from wide crosses utilizing D&PL's global germplasm and breeding efforts. They were bred for the purpose of meeting the high yield and quality traits needed by both the grower and the mills. They are currently in the latter stages of development before commercial release.

DPLX 99X36 is a mid-early variety with diverse parentage that is expected to be adapted across the Belt. It has consistently been high yielding with high lint turnout and a longer and stronger fiber than other mid-early varieties. It has improved performance and quality over currently grown mid-early varieties. This variety is moderately resistant to Verticillium wilt and has moderate tolerance to reniform nematode.

DPLX 99M03 is intended for early season areas of South Texas, the Southeast and Mid-South. Its key features are excellent yields, length and strength, low micronaire, true fiber fineness and diverse germplasm. It has tolerance to bacterial blight, with moderate tolerance to reniform nematode.

DPLX 00S04 is a mid-early season variety with excellent yield potential and better fiber quality than many excellent commercial varieties. Its key features are premium micronaire, excellent strength, significantly higher yield and a diverse germplasm.