Under non-irrigated conditions, prior to the loss of single-gene technology, there were some years when a single variety here and there would out-yield DPL 555, but those varieties were not as consistent, says Shurley.

“When we look at the varieties that were common in all three years, DPL 555 still out-yielded them. Irrigated yields tell pretty much the same story.”

Shurley’s research also examined new varieties from the past three years compared to the last three years that DPL 555 was available, versus the top yielder.

“In non-irrigated conditions, these newer varieties have not quite come up to where DPL 555 was in 2007-2009.

“But again, weather could be a factor. Under irrigated conditions, these newer varieties have yielded as well or better than DPL 555 did back in its time.”

Turning to production costs, at two-and a-half seed per foot and 36-inch rows, seed and technology fees, there really isn’t very much difference regardless of the technology, says Shurley.

“With GLB2 varieties, you’re using Liberty versus generic glyphosate, so you have a couple of things going on here.

“The timing, applications and the materials are pretty similar. But the reason the herbicide cost is so high is that you’ve got Liberty in the system versus a $15-per-gallon generic glyphosate.

“Secondly, because it’s not a Roundup Flex variety, you don’t qualify for the Monsanto rebate program, and that can be as much as $20 per acre.

“The herbicide costs and total costs for the GLB2 varieties are a little bit higher.”

In general, yields no longer appear to be a concern with newer cotton varieties, says Shurley.

“Our yields on these new varieties rival DPL 555, and the industry has really stepped up to the plate and brought us some very good cotton choices.

“Before we lost DPL 555, there were a lot of concerns because we didn’t have anything out there that would compete. But the industry has given us some options that are working very well.

“Those concerns we had are no longer founded, and that’s to the industry’s benefit.

Fiber quality has definitely improved, he adds.

“I think yield continues to be the No. 1 factor in variety selection and in technology selection. Our growers can make any technology work. We can find ways to control weeds and grasses and control insect pests in our cotton regardless of the technology.

“We’ve done work in Georgia that proves time after time that yield is the factor that growers look at — not technology. They can make any technology work, but give them the pounds, and that’s what is most important.”

Most growers didn’t plant two-gene cotton when it was first available because it didn’t yield well, and they still had DPL 555, says Shurley.

“Seed and technology costs have increased, and newer technologies do have value.

“Costs have increased due to the way things are bundled now, but the newer technologies have value for growers, and they do add a lot of flexibility for weed and insect control.

“Roundup Flex gives us flexibility, and the new GlyTol LibertyLink will also give us some flexibility in our systems.

phollis@farmapress.com

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