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Grower Perspective

Pima varieties provide quality fiber and disease protection

California Pima growers get high yields, excellent quality and disease protection to overcome specific challenges to their region.

Five Points Ranch in California increased cotton yields and marketed their cotton for premium returns in 2018. More than 80 percent of their cotton acres were planted to PhytoGen® brand PHY 881 WRF, a premium Pima variety with Fusarium Race 4 tolerance.

Environmental and agronomic conditions enable California cotton producers to grow Pima varieties with some of the best fiber quality in the world. But for about four years of low cotton prices and high water-per-acre costs, cotton wasn’t grown at Five Points Ranch in Fresno County, California. The past two years, however, have seen cotton return to the 7,500-acre ranch, established in 1965.

When the operation left cotton production in 2012, the average harvestable yield was 3.5- to 4-bale cotton. In 2017 and 2018, about 3,000 acres of Pima cotton were planted at Five Points Ranch in conjunction with almonds, fresh garlic and process tomatoes and onions. Farm manager Armando Galvin reports PhytoGen® brand PHY 881 WRF, planted on approximately 80 percent of those acres in 2018, thrives on their farm.

“We did really well this year,” Galvin says. “We averaged better than expected across the operation in 2018, with PhytoGen yielding the best across our farms. It was a cotton year — lots of really good cotton!”

Galvin says they are well-pleased with the grades, and their broker was able to market the cotton for a premium.

“The grades were excellent on the PhytoGen! About 90 percent of the bales were Grade 1, a few Grade 2, but all premium cotton. PhytoGen 881 is going to be hard to beat,” he says.

While the climate of Five Points, located 25 miles northeast of Coalinga, California, is conducive to consistent yield and high-quality cotton, western cotton producers face unique challenges, such as fusarium wilt. Fusarium (FOV) Race 4 is particularly difficult to manage because once it’s in a field, there is no crop protection treatment.

Less than 10 years ago, experts were warning California cotton producers of the dire consequences of the “ominous infestation” of soilborne FOV Race 4. At the same time, they expounded upon Pima varieties that were showing exceptional tolerance. While cotton producers were very familiar with FOV Race 1 for decades, Race 4 presented growers a new challenge. FOV Race 4 does not require nematodes to cause plant injury and is present in every soil type in the state.

Thanks to PhytoGen, California cotton producers can thrive with the current crop of cottonseed varieties tolerant to FOV Race 4, such as PhytoGen brand PHY 841 RF, PHY 881 RF and PHY 888 RF.

“Costs are going up, commodity prices are going down, so we’re trying to get more efficient with inputs,” Galvin says. “Planting varieties with built-in protection certainly helps.”

With always-on disease protection, PhytoGen Breeding Traits can help cotton producers be more efficient and proactively protect against yield-robbing pests, such as FOV Race 4.

 

Click here to learn more about managing FOV Race 4 in California.