MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Bayer CropScience recently announced it is expanding its line of FiberMax cottonseed varieties carrying the Roundup Ready and Bollgard technology. The four new varieties available in 2003 are FM 958B, FM 960BR, FM 819RR and FM 991BR.

"Because of demand from growers, we are continually searching for new and better biotechnologies to introduce into superior germplasm," says Lee Rivenbark, FiberMax sales manager.

"Our focus is the development of agronomically superior varieties with excellent fiber quality. This is fundamental to the development of transgenic varieties. Our belief is that growers should not and will not sacrifice agronomic performance and fiber quality to benefit from transgenic technology," says Jane Dever, cottonseed product development manager for Bayer CropScience.

According to Jeff Gwyn, director of research for Bayer Cotton Seed International, the primary goal of the Bayer Cotton Seed International transgenic breeding program is to produce transgenic varieties that are not only equal or superior to their conventional recurrent parent counterparts, but also equal or superior to competitor transgenic varieties in terms of agronomic performance and fiber quality.

FM 958B combines the broadly adaptable attributes of FM 958 with Bollgard technology, which provides season-long protection from budworms. FM 958B is a Bollgard variety that offers early maturity, excellent fiber quality and a large, moderately storm-resistant boll.

FM 819RR is a very early-maturing okra-leaf variety with tolerance to Roundup UltraMax herbicide for broad-spectrum grass and weed control. FM 819RR has excellent fiber quality for an early-maturing variety that makes a good replant or late plant option, and it has good water use efficiency to compete well in dryland situations.

FM 960BR and FM 991BR are stacked varieties, offering both the Roundup and Bollgard technology. FM 960BR has high-yield potential, early fruit set and good tolerance to stress. This variety has good vigor, moderate early season growth, and is well-adapted to shorter growing season production areas.

FM 991BR is a full-season variety with an erect, vigorous growth habit, tolerance to over-the-top applications of Roundup and season-long protection of the Bollgard gene. This variety has high-yield potential with excellent fiber quality. FM 991BR has strong early-season growth and produces a good stalk with some tolerance to lodging.

In addition, FiberMax is introducing a new stripper variety in 2003. FM 5024BXN provides excellent storm resistance that offers tolerance to over-the-top applications of Buctril 4EC herbicide. This stripper variety is an excellent option in fields with morningglory weed pressure.

More technology from BayerCropScience has been submitted for EPA approval for use on cotton. The LibertyLink Cotton System is a new post-emergent herbicide system with cotton varieties that are resistant to Liberty herbicide. Upon registration, LibertyLink will be offered on a limited basis in top-performing varieties derived from the FiberMax genetic family. Growers will be able to spray Liberty directly over-the-top to control a broad spectrum of key grasses and broadleaf weeds.

"University trials across the Cotton Belt show that cotton lines containing the LibertyLink trait have complete tolerance to Liberty herbicide, and weed control has been excellent," says Andy Hurst, product manager for cotton herbicides, Bayer CropScience. "With a wider application window, cotton growers have more flexibility to use the herbicide based on weed size rather than crop stage."

According to Hurst, the LibertyLink Cotton System offers growers an excellent tool for resistance management. The system also fits well in production trends toward decreased tillage, fewer applications of pre-emergent herbicides and increased use of broad-spectrum post-emergent herbicides.

Because the LibertyLink trait will be available in FiberMax varieties, fiber quality is expected to be excellent.

"Bayer CropScience is committed to bringing new technologies to the marketplace to enable growers to compete more effectively in the global cotton economy," says Dever. "FiberMax offers the best technology in the best germplasm."