As things on the farm continue to get tighter, Jay Darden is looking at Roundup Ready varieties as well as other transgenic varieties as a way to reduce costs.
He sees factors converging and the gap closing between yield and quality all the time.
In the past few years, Darden has used conventional and Bollgard varieties to achieve more than a two-bale-an-acre average. Darden farms in both the Tar Heel State and the Old Dominion near Newsoms, Va.
"I’ve never really grasped hold of Roundup Ready varieties, but I’m a firm believer in the Bollgard gene," Darden says. "Bollgard can compete in quality and yields."
Darden has grown such varieties as FiberMax 966, SG 125, DP 428B and Stoneville 4691B on his 475 acres of cotton.
He has done a good job with conventional weed control on his 475 acres, but believes the newer transgenic varieties are nearing a cost-effective standpoint where quality and yield will be in the same package.
This year, he believes transgenic technology may add to his bottom line.
"In the past, I was able to do with conventional varieties, but now as things continue to get tighter, and there’s less and less profit to pay the bills, I may need to take another look at varieties such as Roundup Ready."
At the top of his priority list is saving money on trips across the field. Darden reports that he doesn’t have the weed pressures others might have. "Roundup Ready and other types of technology like that didn’t fit what I was doing because I didn’t have the weed pressures. And those varieties didn’t have the quality package I needed.
"Right now, because the varieties are improving, the technology may be able to put more money in my pocket because of the difference in yield," Darden says.
"Most people say that Roundup Ready gives you the ability to manage your cotton with one chemical," Darden says. "My position in the past was I was able to use conventional varieties to get the job done."
With conventional cotton, it costs him in the $260-$300 per acre range. "Extension says in the $230 range," Darden says. "A big chunk of that money is taken up by land preparation, spraying early with Roundup or using another chemical.
"Roundup would cut at least two trips over the field," Darden says. "Roundup Ready makes common sense. It affords me the ability to put a little more in my bottom line."
Darden has been growing cotton since 1992 and has worked with Johnny Parker at the Commonwealth Gin to grow varieties that produce quality cotton and received recommendations from Extension Agent Wes Alexander.
"Johnny Parker has been a big help to me in the area of varieties and keeping the quality up," Darden says. "When you see varieties that are doing good at the gin, you get an idea about what to expect from it in the field. That’s where I base my variety decisions — what it does in the field.
"The grade sheet is where it counts."