Headed into the 2024 season, word is spreading fast about the trial-winning, high yield potential of newer PhytoGen® brand varieties.
In Mississippi, PhytoGen® cottonseed won first place in both the 2023 Mississippi State University (MSU) Cotton Official Variety Trials (OVTs) and the 2023 MSU On-Farm Cotton Variety Trials, with seven of the top 12 varieties in the OVTs.
The next question many producers ask is whether this trial performance translates into success on a larger scale. That answer is a resounding yes.
Brian Fyfe is the business manager of Heaton Farms in Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he overseas daily operations related to crop production along with farm managers and a consultant. Fyfe manages approximately 14,000 acres of farmland with Heaton Farms, including 7,000 acres of mostly irrigated cotton.
Over the last three years, Fyfe has seen new PhytoGen brand varieties provide exceptional yield — giving a nod to the consistency of the varieties in differing environments and in different seasons. His eyes were opened to this potential beginning in 2021, when they planted an experimental variety that was later released as PhytoGen® brand PHY 411 W3FE.
“That first year we planted PHY 411 W3FE, it did really well on a sandy dryland field — much higher than that field had been producing in recent years,” Fyfe said. “In 2022, we planted PHY 411 W3FE on a 500-acre block of good cotton ground, but the yields had been decreasing on that field for a few years. PHY 411 W3FE outyielded every variety around it by 400 pounds to the acre.”
In 2023, they planted PHY 411 W3FE and PhytoGen® brand PHY 443 W3FE on the entire 2,200-acre farm, which included the 500-acre block from the previous year. The yield average on that farm was 50 to 80 lb./A higher than their total operation average.
“The 2,200-acre farm usually yields about 50 to 80 pounds lower than our average for Heaton Farms,” Fyfe said. “Last season, planted to PHY 411 W3FE and PHY 443 W3FE, it was 70 to 80 pounds higher than our overall farm average. That has never happened before.”
Fyfe says one advantage of the newer PhytoGen brand varieties is the built-in resistance to reniform and root-knot nematodes. He says they’ve known nematodes were an issue for many years, but they’re learning the impact is more than they realized.
Traditional nematode management requires higher input costs and potentially changing the equipment setup on planters and tanks. With PHY 411 W3FE and PHY 443 W3FE, the nematode protection is already in the seed.
“When you look at farm yield history and you’re still making the same yields as 15 years ago, something is holding you back. In many cases, we’re finding out it is a nematode issue,” Fyfe said. “When you increase yields by 300 to 400 pounds to the acre because of new varieties, it’s a game-changer.”
Going into 2024, Fyfe says they will plant more PhytoGen brand varieties and continue to use Enlist One® herbicide in their weed control program. They also grow varieties with a dicamba-based herbicide system, and he says two herbicide systems are possible with good management. With the yield increases from PhytoGen, it’s worth a little extra effort.
“We had some test plots this past year with varieties from PhytoGen as well as the competitive varieties in this area. PHY 411 W3FE and PHY 443 W3FE were No. 1 and 2 in our own farm trial,” Fyfe said. “PHY 411 W3FE is a great variety — even if you don’t have a nematode problem — and if you have nematodes, it is definitely the variety to plant. PhytoGen outperformed our farm average last year.”