How long will it take for Pentia to become a standard part of the cotton-farming lexicon? BASF representatives are hopeful it won't be long at all, although even they might have to admit that Pentia doesn't have quite the same ring as Pix (as in “I'm going to Pentia my cotton today”).

Pentia is the name BASF has given its next generation of plant growth regulator. The new pentaborate chemistry is already raising eyebrows based on its performance in tests across the Cotton Belt.

In one set of trials at AgriCenter International in Memphis, Tenn., BASF representatives said, Pentia-treated cotton plants produced an average of more than a half-bale per acre better than plants sprayed with a comparable rate of a competing product (1,240 pounds vs. 978 pounds for the other product).

“We were very happy with the trials at the AgriCenter,” said Greg Stapleton, technical services representative for BASF in the north Delta, speaking at a press conference at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show.

“Besides the yield increase, we saw additional benefits such as faster uptake, improved boll retention and superior height control. This is a revolutionary product, and we're just scratching the surface of what it can do.”

Stapleton said Pentia's active ingredient, mepiquat pentaborate, helps make it much faster-acting than other plant growth regulators.

“In a straight comparison between Pentia and mepiquat chloride, there was 25.6 percent more Pentia in the plant after six hours,” he notes. “This not only means better performance, but improves the product's rainfastness.

The faster uptake provides other benefits, including improved boll retention, Stapleton said. In a study with the University of Tennessee, Pentia-treated cotton plants had 19 percent more first- and second-position bolls than plants treated with mepiquat chloride, the active ingredient in Pix.

“This data is just a sampling of what we've seen across the Cotton Belt in regards to Pentia,” said Matt Plitt, BASF market manager. “This product makes the job a little easier by providing faster uptake and better rainfastness, that helps improve boll retention, enhances earliness and provides superior height control.”

Plitt said BASF believes Pentia will be a natural fit with the new high-performing cotton varieties. The new varieties require a more aggressive, early-season approach to growth management.

“Knowing your field and managing your plant growth regulator application is the key to maximizing yields,” says Stapleton. “For growers planting the new, high-performing, vigorous cotton varieties, an early application of Pentia can be one of their most important management decisions.”

He said growers shouldn't rule out a late-season application if conditions warrant. “As soon as the plant is reproductive, the first application should be put on. After that, the best timing decisions are based on knowledge of the variety, soil type, weather conditions and other production variables.”

Plitt said Pentia will be available for use in all cotton-producing states, pending state registrations in 2003. BASF will continue to market its Pix product line, which includes Pix Plus, as long as it has value for growers.

“With Pentia, growers can take advantage of the newest chemistry and reap the benefits of the most active plant growth regulator,” he said.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com.