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Tipping the scale for higher yields

Change is difficult, but missing out on something better is even more costly. Find out what benefits this producer saw after switching to PhytoGen® W3FE varieties.

Implementing something new on the farm can be the difference in making do and making it happen. Change is difficult, but missing out on something better is even more costly.

Nematodes are silent yield-robbers that often go unnoticed in cotton production — stealing more yield and profit than many producers realize. High nematode populations can considerably decrease yield and require expensive treatments. Moderate to low nematode populations often put cotton producers in a spot without good options — growers lose yield but it’s not enough to warrant the additional costs of nematicide applications.

Newer nematode-resistant PhytoGen® W3FE varieties have changed the game. By switching to these new varieties, growers get season-long nematode protection for healthier roots in varieties that offer high yield potential across the farm. Now producers don’t have to choose between yield and nematode resistance — they get both in the same variety.

Southeast cotton producer Rodney Helton says he’s seen the benefits of these nematode-resistant varieties firsthand. In 2020, he began working with PhytoGen Cotton Development Specialist Russell Nuti, Ph.D., conducting trials to evaluate new varieties with resistance to reniform and root-knot nematodes (RKNs). PhytoGen brand PHY 443 W3FE won that first trial, and Helton planted it on a majority of his acres near Atmore, Alabama, the following season.

He saw continued success in 2022 and 2023, planting additional PhytoGen W3FE varieties with built-in reniform nematode and RKN resistance. Yields increased dramatically, especially in nematode fields, and nematode populations decreased. Plus, he saw an immediate reduction in crop input costs.

“We have fields with severe reniform nematode pressure, and these PhytoGen varieties changed the game for us. The yields are higher, a good bit higher,” Helton said. “And by the first of July, my chemical bill was $200,000 less than the year before, because we save input costs by planting PhytoGen varieties with nematode resistance.”

Third-party variety trials show similar results throughout the Southeast, where nematodes cost producers $71 million annually.1 In a 2022 consultant trial in Bainbridge, Georgia, six PhytoGen brand varieties with RKN resistance were planted in a field with historically high RKN populations. The trial also included a competitive variety, DP 1840 B3XF, that received an application of Telone® soil fumigant at 3 gal./A.

Without the nematicide, all six PhytoGen W3FE varieties outyielded the competitive variety by 143 to 301 lb./A. The PhytoGen W3FE varieties produced $155 to $215 more lint value/A, after subtracting $75 from the competitive lint value for the nematicide application.2


In a 2021-22 University of Florida-Extension reniform nematode trial, PhytoGen brand PHY 411 W3FE and PHY 443 W3FE both yielded 30% higher than a high-yielding susceptible variety plus a nematicide application. Published trial results stated PHY 411 W3FE and PHY 443 W3FE “boosted income and yield” and “have consistently provided a return on investment” in fields with severe reniform nematode pressure.3

The solution across the Cotton Belt

The Southeast isn’t the only place where nematodes chip away at yield and profits. Nematode resistance in PhytoGen brand varieties sparked the interest of West Texas grower Cody Pleasant and led him to trying something new.  

Pleasant farms 3,500 acres of cotton, wheat and milo alongside his brother, Matthew, and brother-in-law, Ryan Hullum. Their acreage is located between Ralls and Lorenzo, Texas, and sits on sandy land — a habitat where nematodes thrive. In 2023, he wanted to try a different solution and decided to plant PhytoGen brand PHY 332 W3FE, a variety resistant to both reniform and root-knot nematodes.

“Because of the environment we plant in, the possibility of nematodes being present is high — we know they are there,” Pleasant said. “Nematodes can be the root of multiple problems in the field, so it’s nice to have the safety net of the resistance built into PhytoGen varieties. The technology is there. Why not use it?”

Pleasant says these native traits allowed him to simplify his management practices too. He did not need a nematicide with PHY 332 W3FE and previously used aldicarb in his sandier fields to protect plants. He saw a difference with PHY 332 W3FE immediately after planting, with early season vigor and excellent durability in a year that presented a number of challenges.

“2023 was a tough year, but my acres planted to PhytoGen did exceptionally well, even though it was a drought,” Pleasant said. “With PHY 332 W3FE, every seed came up and the crop looked good all summer long, even with the heat and lack of rain.”

1 Lawrence, K., et al. 2022. Cotton Disease Loss Estimate Committee Report, 2021. 2022 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, 4-6 January 2022, San Antonio, TX.

2 Lint value calculations based off $0.70 per pound of lint cotton.

3 Grabau, Z. 2023. How Effective are New Resistant Cotton Cultivars at Managing Reniform Nematodes? https://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/phag/2023/02/24/how-effective-are-new-resistant-cotton-cultivars-at-managing-reniform-nematodes/#:~:text=New%20dual%2Dresistant%20cultivars%20are,combination%20with%20a%20susceptible%20cultivar.

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