Seed-count packaging and new Bt technology are among what's new in cotton varieties for 2004.

Earlier this year, Stoneville Pedigreed Seed Co. announced it will offer a 230,000-seed bag for all cotton varieties in 2004. Three bag sizes — small, medium and large — will accommodate bag weights ranging from 40 pounds to 60 pounds per bag. Bulk packages will contain 9.2 million seeds, or 40, 230,000-seed units.

Meanwhile, Delta and Pine Land Co. will market most of its Upland cotton varieties in bags containing approximately 250,000 seeds. The only exception will be Pima and Acala varieties, which will continue to be packaged in 50-pound bags. Each Boll Box of D&PL Upland varieties will contain approximately 8 million seeds, the equivalent of 32- seed count bags.

Stoneville announced three new cotton varieties for 2004, including one variety with Bollgard II. Bollgard II expresses two Bt proteins — Cry 1 Ac and Cry 2 Ab — which are toxic to caterpillar pests. Bollgard I contained only the Cry 1 Ac protein.

ST 4646B2R is an early maturity, high yielder with Bollgard II and Roundup Ready technologies. It is derived from ST 474. Staple length is 36; micronaire, 4.5; and strength, 29.1.

ST 3990BR is an early maturity, stacked variety with high yield potential. It has good early season vigor, and a good fiber package. It has the Bollgard and Roundup Ready technologies. According to David Guthrie, manager, technical services for Stoneville, the variety, “is a larger plant early on, but it settles down. It loads up early and has a compact boll loading style.”

ST 5242 is a mid- to full-maturity variety with high yield potential and the Bollgard and Roundup Ready technologies. It has excellent early season vigor, according to Guthrie. “Growers may have to pay a little more attention to growth management in this variety.”

During a recent media tour, Stoneville said it plans to take a big step forward with the release of several new cotton varieties in 2005. The company expects the varieties to surpass the yield and quality benchmark established by ST 5599BR.

Pending EPA approval, Dow AgroSciences expects to introduce WideStrike cotton varieties containing the Cry 1 F and Cry 1 Ac Bt toxins, which will provide control of cotton pests such as cotton bollworm, tobacco budworm, beet armyworm, fall armyworm, soybean loopers, cabbage loopers and pink bollworms.

EPA approval for WideStrike cotton is expected in 2004 and would be available in two PhytoGen varieties, one adapted for the Mid-South and one adapted for the Southeast.

PhytoGen intends to release two new Roundup Ready varieties in 2004. PHY410R is an early-to-mid maturity variety adapted for the Mid-South, and is most similar to PSC 355 based on high yield potential. PHY 510R is a full season variety adapted for the Southeast, and is most similar to HS 12 based on high yield potential. Both varieties are expected to provide an excellent fiber package.

In addition, research agreements are in place with several U.S. cottonseed companies. Those companies are working to incorporate the WideStrike trait into their elite varieties.

A new cotton seed company, Beltwide Cotton Genetics, is evaluating BCG 28R for yield and adaptability in the Mid-South growing region. BCG 28R is an early- to medium season cotton with a smooth leaf and a compact growth habit. It contains the Roundup Ready trait.

Beltwide Cotton Genetics is a sister company to Delta King Seed Co., headquartered in McCrory, Ark.