Keith Mayberry says 2003 was one of those years “when you could plant cotton in a road ditch and make two bales an acre.”

The Lenox, Mo., farmer may have been exaggerating somewhat, but many Mid-South growers will remember 2003 fondly when years when conditions weren't so favorable have faded from memory.

One of the highlights of 2003 for Mayberry was the yield response he received from Pentia, the new mepiquat pentaborate formulation of its plant regulator that BASF introduced for the 2003 growing season.

“We were fortunate enough to participate in one of the trials with Pentia,” Mayberry told editors attending a press briefing. “Plots sprayed with Pentia on our farm yielded from 67 to 125 pounds more lint per acre than those portions of the field that did not receive applications of Pentia.

“In the far north Delta where we farm, earliness is one of the keys for us. Pentia moved the harvest up five to seven days for cotton that was planted the second of May.”

Mayberry's was one of 76 third-party grower trials conducted with Pentia across the Cotton Belt in 2003. Growers produced an average of 4.2 percent higher yields on cotton treated with Pentia than that with products containing mepiquat chloride.

Those farmers saw an increase in net income of $24 to $53 an acre with Pentia.

Chuck Provence, a farmer from Clarkton, Mo., who also spoke at the briefing, said he applied Pentia on all but 10 rows of 100 acres of cotton on his farm in 2003. “The spray boom was left turned off one pass,” he said, “and those 10 rows showed up the rest of the season.

Provence plant maps much of his crop. “We're all watered, and we try to monitor the crop as closely as possible,” he said. “Pentia seemed to work better than the other plant growth regulators in 2003.”

“Everyone knows we had a good crop last year,” said Greg Stapleton, technical services representative with BASF. “But a lot of growers who applied Pentia are saying these are the best yields we ever had.”

“The thing that really stands out about this product is its consistency,” says Brad Godwin, cotton market manager for BASF. “As we do more testing, we see more data that backs that up.”

There are several reasons for that, according to Chandler Mazour, technical market manager for BASF. “Pentia is absorbed by the plant 20 percent faster than mepiquat chloride in 24 hours.”

In development since the mid-1990s, Pentia contains a boron molecule in its active ingredient, which significantly increases its absorption by the cotton plant. The faster absorption leads to a shortening of the nodes and the diversion of more energy to the bolls.

BASF recommends that growers make their initial applications of Pentia at pinhead or matchhead square and then manage for the environmental conditions. Company representatives believe the new formulation can be especially beneficial on the new, more vigorous varieties seed companies have introduced.

“It may be that growers don't need to apply any more Pentia after that initial application,” said Stapleton. “We have such a wide variety of soils and conditions in the Mid-South. Some fields may only need 16 ounces and some may need 48.

“But what we have found is that when we didn't apply it at pinhead square is when we didn't get the optimum height control.”