It might be stretching it some to say that BASF's new plant growth regulator formulation moves into the cotton plant faster than you can say mepiquat pentaborate, but not much, according to the company's product manager for Pentia.

“One of the things Pentia has been shown to do is to get into the cotton plant from 22 to 25 percent quicker than other formulations of plant growth regulators,” Scott Asher, BASF market manager. “So six hours after application, we have 22 to 25 percent more compound in the cotton plant.

“Once it's in the plant, we obviously have more product to give us some of the benefits we've been looking at such as yield enhancement, earliness enhancement and height control enhancement.”

Speaking at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show, Asher said the quicker uptake proved its value all across the Southeast and the Delta in 2004.

“Some of these areas of the Cotton Belt received showers on almost a daily basis,” he said. “With the quicker rainfastness of Pentia, growers were able to treat their cotton and not worry about it washing off.”

The improved rainfastness and other features of the mepiquat pentaborate compound have led to recent label changes for Pentia that will be in effect for the 2005 growing season.

The new labeling specifies a two-hour rainfastness when used alone and one-hour when applied with a high quality adjuvant. It also provides an updated application timing-chart that specifies the first application of Pentia should be made at pinhead square.

“This early application, followed by sequential, as needed Pentia applications, has been shown to improve fruit set and retention which has led to improved earliness and increased yields,” Asher.

In 149 trials conducted by university researchers, consultants and growers over the last two years, Pentia provided 58 pounds more lint than the mepiquat chloride-based compounds. Growers were able to harvest from three to six days earlier in cotton treated with Pentia.

“We asked our cooperators to do late-season plant mapping,” said Asher, “During that time, we were averaging 13 percent more open bolls with Pentia than we were with mepiquat chloride-based compounds. And that leads to an earlier harvest of about three to six days.”

Crop consultants said faster uptake was beneficial in the weather conditions many growers suffered through in 2004.

“The consistency of Pentia in bad weather and wet conditions is by far the best to me,” said Eddie Cates, a cotton consultant from Marked Tree, Ark. “I think it also helps with earliness. That's the reason I put it out at the front end to set the plant up to set and hold early fruit.”

“When you get that amount of rainfall and heat, you have a lot of cotton getting out of control, especially if you have fertilizer underneath it,” said Asher. “Some of our newer varieties are very aggressive. Pentia has been able to manage that cotton crop a little better.

Asher said BASF will also be launching a new formulation of its pendimethalin herbicide to be called Prowl H20 in 2005.

“Prowl H2O is a water-based compound in contrast to the standard pendimethalin EC-based compounds that are on the market today,” he said. “The new Prowl formulation is encapsulated so that it is low odor. It doesn't stain and can be washed off with water.

“As far as performance, the new compound has an improved surface stability; it can lay on the soil surface a lot longer than EC-based formulations will, making it a good application for a pre-emergence treatment behind the planter. It will wait for a rain or irrigation to be incorporated.”

The new Prowl may also be a better fit for no-till or strip-till planting because it will wash off crop residue and onto the soil surface more readily than older pendimethalin herbicides.