“Make certain the variety fits the system, including the equipment available and performance goals. Quality or a market producer may be a good choice. It’s becoming more and more important to plant what the consumer wants.”

Drake says if farmers wait three years, some decisions will be made for them. Older varieties will be retired as new ones come on board.

“Varieties change fast and the current ones may no longer be available within a few years.” Consequently, farmers must constantly update their knowledge of new options “to be able to make the best choices.”

Variety trials are important tools. “The best option is a trial on your own farm,” he said. “The next best is a trial on a field with similar soil, a similar season and similar moisture.” Replications, within the field and across several years, also add value to the trials. That’s currently a missing element for many Southwest dryland cotton farmers, Drake said.

“We don’t have dryland variety trials for the past two years because of drought. We’re having to look back three years, and some of those varieties are no longer available.”

He recommends growers look at field trials with limited irrigation to fill in some information gaps. “A farmer may find something that fits dryland conditions.”

Farmers should pay attention to what they know about their own farms. “Particular varieties will perform better on specific farms. Find out what fits. It may not be the same variety your neighbor is using.”



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