Grower Perspective

Planting for a premium: Southeast grower-ginner understands fiber quality benefits

Southeast cotton grower and ginner Bobby Crutchfield says he’s been able to get 5-cent fiber quality premiums with PhytoGen® cottonseed.

As a Southeastern cotton grower and ginner, Bobby Crutchfield certainly appreciates how premium fiber quality characteristics can boost a grower’s bottom line.

“We’ve been getting really good premium bids on PHY 444 WRF — even as much as a 5-cent premium on the market price. Every extra penny is equal to $5 per bale,” says Crutchfield, who operates the Coffee Gin Company in Coffee County, Alabama.

In 2017, Crutchfield planted one-half of his cotton acreage to PhytoGen® brand PHY 444 WRF and one-half to PHY 490 W3FE, a variety with WideStrike® 3 Insect Protection and the Enlist cotton trait.

In his third year with PHY 444 WRF, Crutchfield says the variety’s average yield on his dryland ground was three bales per acre in 2017, and the fiber quality is “heads above” competing varieties. “It’s extremely high-performing, both in quality and in yield. The quality is well above competing brands. Fiber quality is really outstanding on that variety.”

While micronaire ratings of 4.1 to 4.7 can garner a premium and discounts begin at ratings of 5 or more, Crutchfield says several competing cotton varieties delivered to his gin this year have had an average mic of 5 or more. In comparison, the micronaire of PHY 444 WRF is ranging from 4.1 to 4.5.

“With PHY 444 WRF we’re seeing a lower average micronaire, which is especially noteworthy because dry weather and heat generally cause high micronaire ratings in this region,” he explains. “Our PHY 444 WRF had a greater than 40 percent gin turnout. Also, the staple length is extremely high, which gets our loan value way up there.”

Controlling pigweed

An increasing problem with tough-to-control pigweed populations convinced Crutchfield to test out the Enlist weed control system offered by PHY 490 W3FE.

In his first year with the variety, he says, “We planted PHY 490 W3FE to get better control of pigweed, and we accomplished that. We stayed on the program, sprayed in a timely manner, and we controlled what was very heavy pigweed pressure.”

After a preplant burndown treatment, his weed control program consisted of an application of Enlist Duo® herbicide, followed by a treatment of Liberty® herbicide, and then a second spray of Enlist Duo.

Planted solid in 36-inch rows with a 12-row planter, the variety withstood late-season storms that caused lodging in several competing cotton varieties. “We planted PHY 490 W3FE after the PHY 444 WRF, and it’s standing well. Recent rains and storms have caused lodging in many varieties in my area, but not in the PhytoGen.”

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