Milestone Marks 40 Years of Grower-focused Innovation in Cotton
INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 8, 2019 — Anniversaries typically celebrate the past, but this one looks to the future. In conjunction with its 40th anniversary, PhytoGen announces that PhytoGen Horizon Network growers will plant the industry’s first reniform-resistant cottonseed varieties in 2020.
A first for the cotton industry, these PhytoGen pre-commercial varieties include the PhytoGen Breeding Trait™ for reniform resistance, which offers built-in, season-long protection against reniform nematodes. PhytoGen Breeding Traits™ are naturally occurring, native traits that protect plants against common yield-robbing pests and diseases.
“Forty years ago, PhytoGen was formed with a commitment to develop varieties and technologies to help cotton growers produce consistently high yield potential and excellent fiber quality,” said Hank King, General Manager for PhytoGen. “With the PhytoGen Breeding Trait for reniform resistance, we’re looking ahead to how PhytoGen will help U.S. cotton producers thrive for another 40 years.”
During the 2019 season, PhytoGen cotton development specialists conducted on-farm trials evaluating reniform resistance. The reniform-resistant varieties demonstrated exponential yield gains in fields infested with reniform nematodes, compared to susceptible varieties. These same varieties also produced exceptional yields and fiber quality in environments without reniform nematodes.
“The PhytoGen Breeding Trait for reniform resistance will be a significant benefit for producers — they will see a considerable increase in yield potential in fields with reniform nematodes,” said Jason Woodward, Ph.D., PhytoGen Cotton Development Specialist for the Mid-Atlantic. “In our internal reniform trials, the resistant plants were larger and noticeably healthier all season long, and these varieties produced substantial yield increases compared to industry-leading, non-resistant varieties.”
That yield performance is exciting news for U.S. cotton growers in areas with high reniform populations. Extension experts estimate that reniform nematodes cause annual cotton losses of more than 250,000 bales, with the greatest losses in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas.1 King said reniform-resistant cotton varieties will greatly benefit growers across the Cotton Belt.
“In areas where reniform nematode populations are highest, the PhytoGen Breeding Trait for reniform resistance could return previously abandoned cotton acres to production,” King said. “These varieties will help give cotton producers the opportunity to profitably farm cotton again in fields with intense reniform pressure.”
After the initial year with PhytoGen Horizon Network growers, PhytoGen plans to commercially launch reniform-resistant varieties in 2021. As with all PhytoGen W3FE varieties, the reniform-resistant varieties will include additional PhytoGen Breeding Traits such as bacterial blight resistance, root-knot nematode resistance and verticillium wilt tolerance. PhytoGen alone offers industry-leading native traits combined with its proprietary genetics for excellent vigor, high yield potential and exceptional fiber quality.
“The PhytoGen breeding team set the goal to bring reniform resistance to the cottonseed market in high yield potential germplasm, and PhytoGen Horizon Network growers will get to experience this innovation in 2020,” King said. “We could not think of a better way to celebrate 40 years of business than to offer another solution to help our customers thrive in cotton.”
Four Decades of Cottonseed Innovation
PhytoGen was founded in 1980 by the J.G. Boswell Company to improve the overall economics of cotton production. Through varieties with high yield potential and desirable fiber characteristics, PhytoGen quickly became the gold standard of Pima varieties and sells more Pima cottonseed than any other seed company.
In 1997, Dow AgroSciences joined with the J.G. Boswell Company to establish PhytoGen Seed Company, LLC. The combined expertise and resources positioned PhytoGen to expand research and development. The investment paid off with a succession of industry-changing quality advancements and trait integrations, such as the first Roundup Ready® and Genuity® Roundup Ready Flex Pima cottonseed. PhytoGen also was the first company to provide Pima varieties tolerant to Fusarium Race 4.
PhytoGen expanded its reach into the Upland market in the 1990s and has since developed numerous successful varieties, such as the No. 1 planted PhytoGen® brand PHY 375 WRF and PHY 499 WRF. The company also brought new insect management technologies to U.S. cotton producers with WideStrike® Insect Protection and WideStrike® 3 Insect Protection, the first three-gene Bt trait in cottonseed.
In 2016, PhytoGen introduced another successful integration with a new herbicide technology trait. It was the first seed company to offer varieties with the Enlist® cotton trait, which provides growers with a herbicide system to combat glyphosate-resistant and hard-to-control weeds.
What’s Ahead for PhytoGen
With this history of innovative yield protection, PhytoGen continues to solidify its leadership position in native traits with PhytoGen Breeding Traits™. King said PhytoGen’s core mission is to advance varieties that can help generate a consistent return on investment for its grower customers. This customer-focused mentality brought PhytoGen Breeding Traits to fruition and will drive future innovations.
“We foresee a day in the near future when every PhytoGen brand variety we offer comes with built-in protection against root-knot nematodes, reniform nematodes, bacterial blight and verticillium wilt,” King said. “We want to take those problems off the table for our customers, so they can focus on what they do best — managing these varieties for even higher yield potential and excellent fiber quality.”For more information about PhytoGen brand varieties or PhytoGen Breeding Traits™ that can help you thrive, go to PhytoGen.com, or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.
Footnotes: 1K.S. Lawrence, et al. 2018. Cotton disease loss estimate committee report, pp. 161-163. In Proceedings, Beltwide Cotton Conferences, 3-5 January 2018, San Antonio, Texas.