By Blair McCowen
Since its trial launch for the 2016 crop year, Phytogen’s Enlist Duo cottonseed has satisfactorily met grower and industry expectations with its durability and economic advantages.
According to the Enlist website, growers across the country have put the new seed to use and have already seen an increase in their yields. PCCA Member Communications Area Manager Zach Hrencher echoed these claims describing the potential of the 2, 4-D resistant fields in Kansas.
“This year, Kansas has three Enlist Duo irrigated fields,” Hrencher said. “The yield potential has been incredible. Between good weather and no chemical damage to the crop, those fields have had a chance to make three bales per acre.” PCCA grower-owner and 2, 4-D resistant cotton grower Tom Lahey of Southwest Kansas shared his experience with the new cotton variety as well.
“The variety we have this year is the 490,” he said. “It is a medium season variety, and because of the heat units we got late in the growing season, it finished very well.” The good news with the 2, 4-D variety keeps rolling in as Hrencher said he received information regarding the EPA and the Enlist Duo cottonseed.
“I received an email stating that the EPA opened a 30-day comment period on the proposed amendment to the Enlist Duo herbicide registration to allow the use of Enlist with cotton,” he said. “By entering into the comment period this early, maybe the label will be approved for the 2017 crop year.”
This new information will allow the development of the 2, 4-D resistant cotton to continue and even be aided by the use of an additional Phytogen herbicide to help control the Roundup resistant weeds that are common in Kansas cotton fields.
“While it is true that we have Roundup resistant weeds, our farmers also need protection from neighboring 2, 4-D drift,” Hrencher said. “I believe a good amount of the state’s (Kansas) cotton growers will want to plant 2, 4-D resistant cotton in some capacity based on what herbicides are typically sprayed in their area.” The herbicide and insecticide variable has been a topic of interest for Lahey who, having grown the 2, 4-D resistant cotton, says there is still work to be done in the future.
“It has herbicide and several insecticide traits, but it can’t be improved until we have more experience with it,” Lahey said. The improvements developing on the 2, 4-D resistant cotton and the herbicides that could potentially be used alongside it are eagerly awaited by growers and others who work in the Kansas cotton industry.
“The new varieties have better yields, but 2, 4-D damage has pulled the yield down so far that we don’t know what our true potential is anymore,” Hrencher said. “A combination of higher yielding varieties and 2, 4-D resistance will help expand cotton acres.” Looking to the future of Kansas’ cotton production, Lahey shared information on the production of his coop gin.
“For two years, our gin has been working to get to the 20,000 – 25,000 bale mark, and we have been short,” he said. “I think by 2018 with the 2, 4-D cotton, we could be looking at 75,000 to 100,00 bales.” Hrencher said with the new information and results surfacing on the 2, 4-D resistant cotton, there are growers who traditionally have not been interested in the crop that are looking into it now.
“Part of this interest comes from current commodity prices, and some of it comes from farmers with weak irrigation wells,” he said, “and some of it comes from farmers who are interested in adding it to their crop rotation.”
In addition to the economical appeal of cotton, the crop and its varieties fit into the Cotton Action Plan developed by the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA). As cotton is a more water efficient crop than others grown in the state, having more acres planted in cotton will help reduce the amount of water drawn from the Ogallala Aquifer.
“Cotton is expected to be an integral part of meeting the vision for the future of the state’s water supply,” Hrencher said. “The KDA recently came out with their most recent draft of the cotton action plan.
They are setting lofty but achievable goals. They have also been using public input to determine how cotton can become a major crop in Western Kansas while reducing the use of the Ogallala Aquifer.”
The introduction of 2, 4-D resistant cotton will aid in Kansas’ water conservation goals and increase the yields for farmers who plant it. Though developments are still being made on this new variety and more new information is sure to surface, results show growing 2, 4-D resistant cotton has many potential benefits for producers.
“Overall, I think it will help us financially to be more stable and improve our bottom line,” Lahey said.