With cotton prices good, he went back to growing more cotton last year, but was determined to minimize yield loss to nematodes. He added some new tools to his arsenal.

He emphasizes that he needs all the tools he can find to fight nematodes. “I suspect we lose 5-10 percent yield just from nematodes on our cotton. In some spots with high nematode populations we lose close to 100 percent, so we just don’t need to plant those acres,” Godley says.

On some of his land that had been in soybeans for two years, Godley planted Phytogen 367WRF, which has some nematode tolerance. He says he could have planted other varieties of cotton in those fields, but only if he used a maximum rate of Temik to help manage the high nematode populations.

“Temik has been a good product, but it is a hassle to use, and it seems with it going off the market the industry has not supported its use. Without the precision application equipment we are accustomed to using on other materials, it is hard to be confident of exactly how much is going out,” Godley says.

From some test work done on his farm with seed treatments, Godley says he wasn’t convinced it would give him enough protection to plant cotton on some of his most heavily infested fields.

Likewise, he says, he tried a nematode resistant variety (Stoneville 5599) a few years back and didn’t feel that alone gave him enough protection from nematodes.

Phytogen 367 performed well in the North Carolina State University Official Variety Tests in 2009, and it had tolerance to root-knot nematodes. That was a combination the North Carolina grower needed.

Godley planted his Phytogen 367 on May 10 and picked the cotton in early October. Like many North Carolina growers, he was caught between defoliation and picking when the area was hit by Hurricane Earl that brushed the Mid-Atlantic coast and damaged a lot of cotton in eastern North Carolina.

Despite getting hit with nearly 20 inches of rain after his cotton was defoliated, his nematode tolerant cotton averaged nearly 1,400 pounds per acre. Under more normal rainfall conditions, he says the same cotton would probably have produced another 100-200 pounds per acre.

Joel Faircloth, cotton development specialist for PhytoGen in the Mid-Atlantic region, says, “growers that planted PhytoGen 367 will tell you it has exceptional early season vigor and handles early season stress well. We were also very pleased with how well it yielded relative to its competitors in drought stricken areas of North Carolina and Virginia this year.”  

“The maturity of Phytogen 367 allows producers to harvest earlier, avoiding the risks of inclement weather. In 2010, there were producers in North Carolina that harvested Phytogen 367 prior to Hurricane Earl and yielded greater than two bales per acre,” Faircloth adds

For Mike Godley the battle with nematodes goes on, and with cotton prices approaching record levels, he will be shooting for maximum yields. Planting a nematode tolerant variety is a good first step in managing nematodes, he says.

“PhytoGen 367, Temik, and new seed treatments will likely all be a part of the mixture that will help us manage nematodes and improve our cotton yield,” Godley adds.

rroberson@farmpress.com