Mid-South cotton producers should not face a shortage of planting seed in 2002 because of the Labor Day rains that turned much of the lower Delta into a germination chamber, seed company officials say.

While the heavy rains and humid conditions that occurred in late August and early September could render much of that region's cottonseed unusable, seed companies should be able to obtain enough seed from the drier north Delta to make up for the loss, they said.

“Right now, we're fairly confident we will have adequate seed supplies,” said Randy Dismuke, senior vice president at Delta and Pine Land Co., in Scott, Miss. “We should be able to get enough seed from Alabama, north Mississippi, Arkansas and west Tennessee to help make up for any shortfall.”

Speaking at D&PL's annual Cotton and Soybean Field Day, Dismuke said the company tries to contract for more seed than it expects to sell as a contingency against adverse weather conditions.

“We try to spread out our production as much as possible,” he said. “We have about 500,000 acres of production and expect to produce about 300,000 tons of seed. We will probably only need 30 percent of that.

“We know we have had some losses in the Mississippi Delta, but feel comfortable with the supply we have in other areas.”

Dismuke said there will be some varieties where the company will not be able to meet 100 percent of the demand. “I can't tell you which ones at this point,” he said. “However, we feel we will be able to provide most of what growers want.”

Some of that seed will be from the 1999 and 2000 crops, he said. “Where we do use seed from those years, I can assure you that it will meet our stringent quality standards. Growers can obtain information on the year the seed was produced from their seed dealer.”

Dismuke said Delta and Pine Land officials are still discussing pricing for 2002, but he does not anticipate that weather conditions will have an impact on seed costs.

“Not all of the south Delta's cotton crop will be affected by the weather,” he noted. “We have some late-planted cotton that was only 10 to 15 percent open when the rains hit. That cotton should not be affected like that that was 50 to 60 percent open.”

D&PL officials unveiled seven new picker cotton varieties and two new soybean varieties at the field day. They also previewed some new varieties that could be introduced in 2003 and 2004.

“The new cotton varieties are both high-yielding and high quality products that were in limited production during the 2001 growing season,” said Jim Willeke, D&PL's vice president for sales and marketing. “These products can definitely put more money in farmer's pockets.”

The new cotton varieties include three early-maturing varieties, PM 1199 RR, SG 215 BG/RR and SG 521 R, and four mid-full season varieties, DeltaPEARL, DP 491, DP 555 BG/RR, and DP 448 B. (RR denotes Roundup Ready; BG, Bollgard; and BG/RR, stacked gene.)

Growers also saw new Bollgard II varieties that are being developed jointly by Delta and Pine Land and Monsanto.

“I have to tell you that these are some of the most boring tests we've ever conducted in the presence of insects,” said Jay Mahaffey, Delta and Pine Land entomologist, “Worm pressure is significantly reduced in these trials.”

Mahaffey said entomologists have observed a significant shift in the insect species Bollgard II controls. “Bollgard II cleans up most of the bollworm escapes we saw in earlier Bollgard varieties, and it is very effective on the armyworm species.

“I think this moves us much closer to a true integrated pest management system than we've been able to achieve in the past,” he noted. “This system will be easier to use, but it will come at a price. We're already seeing more stinkbugs than we have before.”

Growers also heard a discussion of the impact of the early September rains on Maturity Group 4 soybeans.

D&PL officials had already plowed up their Group 4 demonstration plots because of the disease damage brought on by the high humidity that accompanied the Labor Day rains.

“What we're seeing is not very pretty,” said Kelly Whiting, soybean project manager for Delta and Pine Land. “But, I don't think I would back off from the Early Planting System using Groups 4s. It's been a good system under the dry weather conditions of the last three or four years.”

Delta and Pine Land's new soybean varieties for 2002 — DP5110S and DP5414 RR — are Group 5 soybeans with high-yield potential, said Whiting. “Both are herbicide resistant and have completed extensive testing in D&PL, university and public trials. We think farmers will be well-pleased with these varieties.”


e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com.