FiberMax says it will have ample supplies of two of the company's new high-yielding cotton varieties available for Mid-South growers in 2001. FiberMax 958 and FiberMax 966 were both available in limited quantities for the 2000 growing season.

"These early- to medium-maturity varieties offer good fiber quality and high-yield potential with yield stability over locations and years," said Jeff Gwyn, director of research for Aventis Cotton Seed International in Greenville, Miss.

Both FiberMax 958 and FiberMax 966 are smooth-leaf varieties that are tolerant to bacterial blight and verticillium wilt. They are also compact plants which offer the grower the opportunity to decrease his growth regulator rate.

According to the company, FiberMax 966 had the highest yield across all locations in 1999 for Delta and Hill locations in the Mississippi State University variety trials. FiberMax 958 ranked fifth across all locations in the Mississippi Delta and was the highest-yielding variety at the Choctaw, Miss., location when planted in 30-inch rows.

In 1999 variety trials in Arkansas, FiberMax 958 ranked second and FiberMax 966 ranked fifth in yield performance over all locations.

FiberMax 958 had the highest yield in the 1998 Tennessee preliminary variety trials and produced lint 1.19 inches in length and 4.0 micronaire, Aventis says. In the same variety trials, FiberMax 966 produced 1,238 pounds of fiber per acre with fiber 1.16 inches long and 3.7 micronaire.

"We can match or beat the competition in yield potential. What differentiates us from other cottonseed companies is the fiber quality our varieties offer," Gwyn told cotton growers and industry members attending the company's Sept. 21 field day in Greenville, Miss.

"The proven fiber quality of our varieties is a big plus because our competitors' varieties often get discounted for micronaire and staple length where we don't."

Another positive attribute of both FiberMax 958 and FiberMax 966, Gwyn said, is large bolls which remain intact through picking. "This trait improves fiber grade and quality and provides some late-season weather resistance."

The company is focusing its marketing efforts for the two cotton varieties in the mid- to upper-Delta but says the varieties also fit the lower Delta for those growers looking for an earlier-maturing variety.

Aventis Cotton Seed International, a breeding and foundation seed company, is owned jointly by Aventis and Cotton Seed International of Australia. ACSI is the global cotton product development center for Aventis. In turn, Aventis has the exclusive sales and marketing rights to any new varieties developed by ACSI.

ACSI operates cottonseed breeding operations in Greenville, Miss., South Carolina and Brazil. In addition, Aventis has a breeding and seed operation in Lubbock, Texas.

LONG-TERM investments by corn growers in research and product development are about to pay off again.

Earlier this year, Cargill Dow Polymers LLC broke ground on a $300 million polymers plant at Blair, Neb. The company, a joint venture formed by Cargill Inc. and Dow Chemicals, plans to have the plant on stream late in 2001. The new plant will utilize some 14 million bushels of corn per year to produce 140,000 tons of polylactic acid, used in plastics and textiles.

"The first result of this venture is a family of fibers and packaging polymers made entirely from corn," said a Cargill spokesman. "Made with our patented NatureWorks technology, the product is the only commercially viable plastic to combine performance, cost competitiveness and outstanding environmental benefits."

Products made from polylactic acid break down to substances readily utilized by bacteria.