Growing cotton in the Southeast would be a breeze if it weren’t for heat, droughts, sand and nematodes. That’s not to mention weeds, insects and possible hurricanes.
Obstacles come every season — it’s not if, but when. In that environment, Southeast cotton farmers say they need a cottonseed they can count on to help consistently produce a profitable crop.
Stevens Culverson farms cotton and peanuts near Bainbridge, Georgia, where these challenges are always around the corner. In that environment, it’s imperative to plant a vigorous seed that makes a stand and keeps growing in the face of adversity. In those tough conditions, Culverson says PhytoGen® brand varieties differentiate themselves from other options.
“PhytoGen cottonseed definitely has excellent vigor. I’ve never had to replant a PhytoGen variety — I’ve never had a bad stand of PhytoGen cottonseed,” Culverson said. “It comes up growing and never stops. From emergence to harvest, PhytoGen varieties won’t let you down.”
Culverson says strong emergence means good stands and healthy plants, but it’s not just an agronomic benefit — it’s also healthy for his bottom line.
“Good emergence is important because replanting means higher input costs for fuel and labor,” Culverson said. “You need to do everything right the first time and be through with it. From a profitability standpoint, good emergence is key.”
Once a crop is established, July and August bring stifling heat and periods of little to no rain. That’s when Southeast cotton varieties are truly put to the test.
“Growing cotton in the Southeast is really hard. We have hot humid days and nights. This cotton never gets a break, but PhytoGen varieties seem to hold the fruit in stressful times,” Culverson said. “They’re stress-tolerant and hold fruit better than some other varieties.”
Compounding the hot summers is the double-edged sword of sandy soils where nematodes thrive. Rain and irrigation drains quickly in sandy soils, and nematodes damage roots — a combination that impedes water and nutrient uptake. But Culverson says PhytoGen brand varieties with resistance to root-knot and reniform nematodes have improved cotton yields on those fields, as well as improved production for subsequent years’ crops.
“Our limiting factor on all the crops we grow, whether it be corn, peanuts or cotton is nematodes, especially root-knot nematodes,” Culverson said. “When we plant a nematode-resistant PhytoGen variety, we don’t have to put out a chemical to control nematodes, and it suppresses the population for the next year. So planting these PhytoGen varieties means better profitability this year and next year. We’re looking down the road when we plant this cotton — knowing that we can suppress nematodes.”
Prior to planting PhytoGen W3FE varieties with RKN resistance, Culverson would often see stunted and wilted plants, or even dead spots in a field. Now those fields are a healthy green table-top — easier to manage and a lot more enjoyable to ride by on those late Georgia afternoons.
“When you ride around and see a good crop of cotton that’s level and loaded up from top to bottom, it makes you smile. It makes you happy,” Culverson said. “But it’s more than that. When you go to the bank and borrow money, you got to pay it back and PhytoGen cotton is going to be there. PhytoGen gives us cotton we can count on to pay our bills.”