To thrive in the cotton industry, growers must stay informed of the latest news and information so they can make the best decisions for their farms.
For cotton grower Geoff Toledo of Visalia, California, that means using social media to keep up with new information and interact with farmers across the Cotton Belt. He first joined Instagram to keep track of his kids, but quickly saw the potential to network and gain information about the cotton industry.
“Through social media, I see a lot of different things going on. I like to read articles and learn new things. If I find something helpful, I share it to help other farmers,” Toledo says. “It’s all about information exchange. Everything in the industry is moving and changing so fast — the more you keep up with things, the better.”
One way he uses social media is to keep abreast of new information from companies or organizations. If a new variety or technology is available, he can learn about the product and decide if it’s a good fit for his farming operation.
“I like to read what the companies are saying on their Twitter or Instagram pages. You get information faster than waiting to go to a meeting,” Toledo says. “You’ve got to stay on top of your game to succeed in this business. We’re constantly trying to do whatever we can to better our cotton yields and fiber quality.”
Industry-leading staple length
Toledo farms cotton, alfalfa, wheat and corn with Tri-T Farms, which includes his dad, Jack, and his brother John. In addition to their own row crop acres, they have a herd of registered Angus cattle and custom farm several thousand acres.
In 2017, Toledo planted just under 1,000 acres of cotton — half Pima and half Acala cotton. On his Pima acres, Toledo planted PhytoGen® brand PHY 881 RF and PHY 888 RF because of their excellent fiber qualities, especially staple length.
“PhytoGen Pima varieties have really good fiber quality — the staple is better than the competition and the yield potential is excellent,” Toledo says. “The staple length with PhytoGen Pima varieties is usually around 50 to 52, and the competitive varieties have around a 48 staple.”
Toledo also says the PhytoGen brand Pima varieties have excellent Race 4 Fusarium resistance, which he says is a major problem across California cotton acres.
“Race 4 Fusarium is a big concern for California cotton farms, but PhytoGen has done a great job breeding Pima varieties that are highly resistant to Race 4 Fusarium,” he says. “The new PhytoGen Pima varieties have Race 4 Fusarium just about whipped.”
Toledo also plants Acala cotton varieties on his farm because of their high-end yield potential. Although the Acala cottons don’t produce the same extra-long staple of Pima, Toledo can push his Acala acres to offset that with maximum yield production. His new favorite Acala variety is PhytoGen brand PHY 764 WRF, which he says offers half a bale more yield per acre than his previous Acala variety. On his farm, it’s a variety that fits variable agronomic scenarios and has produced a reliable, top-end yield.
“PHY 764 WRF is an outstanding yielder that does well in all soils,” Toledo says. “Four bales is average, and we are shooting for five bales — that’s a good crop. In 2016, we averaged 4.1 bales per acre on 1,000 acres with PHY 764 WRF.”
After planting PhytoGen® cottonseed for a decade, Toledo says he depends on the consistent yield and quality. With varieties bred uniquely for the California market, PhytoGen provides the seed he needs to thrive.
“PhytoGen has been really aggressive with breeding, bringing forth varieties that are a good fit for California,” Toledo says. “PhytoGen varieties have great seed quality and outstanding seedling vigor, and they come out of the ground growing. They have outstanding yield and fiber quality.”