Just when farmers thought they had a pretty good handle on all the new cotton varieties that have hit the market in recent months, Stoneville, an Emergent Gentics brand, announced it will offer five more.

Stoneville, formerly known as Stoneville Pedigree Seed Co., said it would release three new stacked and two new Roundup Ready varieties for 2004: ST 5242BR, ST 4646B2R, ST 3990BR, ST 1553R and ST 2448R.

“ST 5242BR is similar to ST 5599BR in high-yield potential and excellent fiber quality, but offers the bonus of being slightly earlier,” says Mike Robinson, who developed the three new stacked varieties. “ST 5242BR's maturity falls between ST 4892BR and ST 5599BR, and it will be a good companion variety with them.”

Based in Stoneville, Miss., Robinson said that Stoneville's new Bollgard II/Roundup Ready variety, ST 4646B2R, offers “all the benefits of the ST 474 germplasm with the best available technology. Growers who like ST 4892BR ought to really love ST 4646B2R. The Bollgard II technology enables growers to achieve higher yield potential because it virtually eliminates the losses caused by below threshold levels.

“Our third new stacked variety, ST 3990BR, is an early-season smooth leaf variety that provides another excellent choice for the stacked picker market. It's earlier than ST 4892BR, and fits in especially well in the northern tier of the Cotton Belt, including the northern Delta, north Alabama and North Carolina areas.”

Southwest cotton growers will like Stoneville's two new Roundup Ready varieties, ST 1553R and ST 2448R, according to Texas Station manager, Steve Calhoun.

“We call them high-quality, storm-proof varieties rather than stripper varieties,” says Calhoun, who bred the two varieties and who is based in Idalou, Texas.

“They really represent a new combination of traits that nobody has offered before: a storm-proof boll type, outstanding quality fiber, and really early maturity. That combination is unique to the industry.”

Both ST 1553R and ST 2448R represent new germplasm, developed from the Holland germplasm acquisition. Stoneville acquired the stripper cotton breeding programs of Holland Cottonseed in 1997.

“ST 1553R and ST 2448R differ some in maturity and fiber quality,” says Calhoun. “ST 2448R is early maturing like ST 2454R. However, ST 2448R has better fiber than ST 2454R and a whole lot better storm resistance. ST 1553R has even better fiber and is very early maturing. It matures about a week earlier than ST 2448R. ST 1553R is expected to perform very well from Plainview north.

“ST 1553R and ST 2448R yield equal to or better than ST 2454R, especially in the northern areas where they're really competitive. Their fiber quality is definitely better than that of ST 2454R. They offer picker fiber quality in a stormproof boll type. They are taking Texas varieties to the next level. Both varieties also offer excellent seedling vigor, which is especially important in our northern areas.”

Limited seed supplies of ST 1553R and ST 2448R are expected in 2004. Large quantities will be available in 2005.

The new varieties are getting good reviews from seed producers. Itta Bena, Miss., grower Tom Grossman, who has grown Bollgard II varieties for two years, planted ST 4646B2R in 2003.

“In those two years, I have never sprayed my Bollgard II varieties for bollworms whereas my regular Bollgard cotton has been sprayed two or three times,” said Grossman. “Bollgard II yields will shock you when you see the yield difference over Bt that you had previously thought was within threshold for bollworms.

“Farming ST 4646B2R is similar to ST 4892BR in emergence, nutrient needs and growth regulator needs. If a grower has good results out of ST 4892BR, then ST 4646B2R will complement it excellently.”

Queen Creek, Ariz., grower Mark Pace says ST 5242BR has very good seedling vigor, and fruited and loaded up well this year. “I used the same management on ST 5242BR that I used on my other varieties; I don't change my program for a new variety. I furrow irrigated ST 5242BR on an 11-day water schedule, making a total of eight irrigations. The variety responded well. We also applied about 160 units of nitrogen per acre on ST 5242BR.”

ST 3990BR performed well in adverse weather this season, according to Plains, Texas, grower Brad Crump. “Our ST 3990BR caught two or three pecking hails, three or four blowing winds, several light rains, and it still came up and grew off well.

“ST 3990BR also set a lot of fruit in spite of the adverse weather. Its Bollgard technology protected the crop against budworms and bollworms, and we avoided aphid flare-ups since we didn't have to spray for bollworms. We had a little worm pressure on our non-Bt cotton, but saw no nickel-and-dime pressure on the ST 3990BR.”

For more information, go to the company's Web site: www.stoneville.com.