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Grower Perspective

RKN protection that doesn’t wash off

Cotton producer Mike Griffin says his first experience with the two-gene root-knot-nematode resistance in PhytoGen® brand PHY 480 W3FE produced an “increase in plant height and an increase in yield.”

Root-knot nematodes (RKN) can wreak havoc on cotton production by attacking roots and stunting plant development. That often leads to lower yields and profits at the end of the season.

Seed treatments and nematicides can help, but neither last all season long. For fields with high nematode populations, producers like Mike Griffin are looking for something that will protect them from planting through harvest.

When Griffin heard about new PhytoGen® brand varieties with two-gene RKN protection, he wanted to give it a try — with a certain field in mind.

“I have a field with super sandy soils and known nematode issues,” says Griffin, who farms near Suffolk, Virginia. “Over the years, I’ve had a hard time getting consistent, uniform plant height in that field. There are spots where if we had a dry spell, the plants would only be 8 to 9 inches tall with one boll on them.”

He worked with his PhytoGen cotton development specialist to trial new PhytoGen brand PHY 480 W3FE. He was impressed enough to try it again — and potentially conduct a RKN trial in the field.

“We saw an increase in plant height and an increase in yield from what we would ordinarily expect in that field,” Griffin says. “You could look across the whole field, and everything looked better — much better uniformity in plant height. We definitely saw improvement.”

PhytoGen brand PHY 320 W3FE, PHY 350 W3FE, PHY 440 W3FE, PHY 480 W3FE and PHY 580 W3FE all include the PhytoGen Breeding Traits for two-gene nematode protection. PhytoGen Breeding Traits offer season-long, built-in protection against some of the most common pests and diseases in cotton.

PhytoGen tops RKN-resistant varieties

Jason Woodward is the PhytoGen cotton development specialist in Griffin’s area, and he says PhytoGen Breeding Traits provide season-long protection without the added time and cost of crop protection applications.

“PhytoGen Breeding Traits provide protection against pests and diseases so producers have one less thing worry about during the season,” Woodward says. “These traits help producers achieve maximum yield and quality potential.”

The benefits of controlling diseases and pests often continue beyond the current season. Woodward studied the efficacy of RKN-resistant cotton varieties in his previous position as Extension plant pathologist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. He confirmed that two-gene RKN-resistant varieties, such as PHY 480 W3FE, conferred residual payoffs for future seasons.

“With two-gene RKN resistance, one of the genes helps with reduced root galling and the other gene helps with a decrease in reproduction,” Woodward says. “So it’s a twofold effect that reduces damage and nematode reproduction. Over time, you can decrease the RKN populations in a field, which helps maximize production in the long term.”

In a 2017 Texas A&M RKN variety trial, the top five varieties with fewest nematodes per 500 cubic centimeters of soil were all from PhytoGen, including the top variety, PhytoGen brand PHY 480 W3FE.1

1Wheeler, T. A., and J. E. Woodward. 2017. Root-knot Nematode Variety Trial Results, 2017. https://lubbock.tamu.edu/files/2018/01/2017-Root-knot-nematode-trial-results.pdf