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Grower Perspective

Producer navigates complexities of dryland cotton with PhytoGen

Midsouth cotton producer Eric Dickinson says PhytoGen provides the yield, early season vigor, traits and information to help him maximize production on his dryland acres. 

Mississippi cotton producer Eric Dickinson decided early on that he wanted to farm, but he didn’t grow up in a farming family. With a lot to learn, he didn’t waste any time after high school.

“My first cotton crop was in 1993, the year I graduated high school,” says Dickinson, who farms in Mantachie, Mississippi. “I bought my cottonseed and had it in the back of my truck at graduation. I started planting later that week.”

After 25 crops, Dickinson has learned a lot about farming dryland acres in the Mississippi hills, where he manages eight soil types and a single field can have a 6- to 7-foot elevation change. In that diverse environment, Dickinson demands excellent performance from his cottonseed, and that’s one reason he’s planted PhytoGen® brand varieties for nearly 10 years.

“When I buy a bag of cottonseed, I want it to do its job. With these newer varieties, I expect more, and I feel like I am getting more with PhytoGen,” he says.

Dickinson says PhytoGen brand varieties give him a better head start, especially in seasons with a wet spring like he had in 2018. That excellent start sets him up for a successful harvest.

“Without a doubt, PhytoGen varieties have a lot more vigor and get-up-and-go in the heavy rain than the competition, hands down. The proof is in the field,” Dickinson says. “If you don’t get off to a good start right, you will be behind.”

In his dryland environment, Dickinson shoots for 2-bale yields, but his PhytoGen brand varieties have hit the 3-bale mark when crop rotations and rain line up. That gets him excited to think how he can improve and push yields even higher.

He also believes the trait technologies in PhytoGen® W3FE varieties provide great protection against insects and weeds. Because of WideStrike® 3 Insect Protection, he didn’t spray any of his PhytoGen brand varieties for bollworms last season. That’s a big change from previous seasons when he sprayed multiple times for worms.

PhytoGen also delivers the herbicide traits he needs. Even though glyphosate-resistant weeds aren’t a major problem in his area, Dickinson says the Enlist weed control system is a great fit for his operation.

“I love the Enlist system and had really good weed control with Enlist One — better weed control than other systems. The weeds were graveyard dead and didn’t come back,” Dickinson says.

Since that first season after graduation, Dickinson has learned a lot, and he keeps on learning every day. He gets information from Mississippi State Extension Service and agriculture publications, and he relies on the PhytoGen team to provide insights for key variety decisions. Dickinson is always looking for information to help him thrive.

“I am always thinking of ways to improve. I read and try to think how an idea might work on my operation. It’s always going through my mind: How can I do a better job?”