In baseball, you never hit a home run with a bunt. If you want to circle the bases, you’ve got to swing for the fences. Many farmers have a similar strategy when it comes to cotton production. They aim for their best season every year, and that means careful variety selection and diligent farm management from start to finish.
Cotton producer Trent Felton from Marianna, Arkansas, says he aims for high yields every year, which means increased planning, management and investment in the crop.
“In our area, most of the farmers are high input,” Felton says. “High input, most of the time, equals high yields. If you don’t invest in your crop, then you are going to be very disappointed at the end of the year.”
For Felton, the hunt for high yields begins with variety selection. In 2017, he planted several PhytoGen® brand varieties, including PHY 312 WRF, PHY 333 WRF, PHY 300 W3FE, PHY 330 W3FE, PHY 340 W3FE, and PHY 380 W3FE. His confidence to plant numerous PhytoGen varieties comes from several years of variety trial data and on-farm experience.
“PhytoGen has been my No. 1 variety by a couple hundred pounds since 2014,” Felton says. He aims for a farm average of 1,250 to 1,500 pounds per acre, with excellent fiber quality to improve his bottom-line profitability.
“PhytoGen is leaps and bounds better than the competition on fiber quality,” Felton says. “Last year, we got a 4-cent premium on a lot of our PhytoGen cotton, and that’s pretty big. On my farm, the PhytoGen fiber quality is far superior to others, and the yield is superior, as well.”
Start strong, finish strong
To reach top-end yields and quality, cotton needs a good start. That’s where PhytoGen outshines competitors on Felton’s farm.
“That’s one of the things about the PhytoGen varieties. When they come out of the ground, they just continue to grow,” Felton says. “This season was a perfect example. It was cool early, but as soon as it turned warm, the PhytoGen varieties came out of it. Some of the other brands sat idle for a few weeks after the cool spell, but the PhytoGen varieties just took off. If you start strong, you finish strong — and you finish early.”
Between the start and finish, a lot of management takes place that has a major impact on the crop’s potential. The new PhytoGen W3FE varieties with WideStrike® 3 Insect Protection and the Enlist® cotton trait have offered Felton additional benefits on his farm. In 2017, he had heavy bollworm pressure, which required two insecticide applications on older Bt technologies. But Felton sprayed his newer varieties with WideStrike 3 only once, or not at all.
“I probably didn’t need to spray the WideStrike 3 varieties for bollworms, but we are very aggressive and don’t like to take any chances. There was a field of WideStrike 3 that we didn’t spray, and it was fine, so the control with WideStrike 3 is better than the previous Bt technologies.”
Felton says that’s a major cost savings when bollworm applications are approximately $18 to $20 per acre with application costs. “If you can knock out an application or two, it goes a long way to make you more profitable,” he says
The Enlist weed control system with the PhytoGen® W3FE varieties also is appealing to Felton. He sprayed Enlist Duo® herbicide on one field in 2017 and was impressed with the results.
“The weed control was excellent. It controlled the pigweed, and I saw no drift issues at all. It worked very well,” Felton says. “I’ve got plenty of fields with tremendous pigweed pressure that are going into cotton next year, and those fields will be in PhytoGen Enlist cotton.”