Andy Scamardo, Bryan, Texas, is an NPE farmer evaluating new Deltapine varieties.
Andy Scamardo, Bryan, Texas, is an NPE farmer evaluating new Deltapine varieties.

The Deltapine New Product Evaluator (NPE) program kicks off its eighth season with nearly 200 farmers planting and evaluating pre-commercial Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton variety candidates for the Deltapine Class of 2016.

Details of the evaluation program were explained as part of Deltapine’s plans to introduce its cotton tolerant to dicamba herbicides, which is technology developed by Monsanto. Deltapine is owned by Monsanto.

Each season in the NPE program, pre-commercial Deltapine variety candidates are evaluated by farmers across all growing regions under different management systems and conditions. Each NPE farmer is given enough seed to grow at least a module-worth of cotton per candidate. These farmers manage the plots as they would manage the rest of their farm, offering a true picture of a candidate’s performance potential. Only candidates proven to perform in the NPE program are commercialized.

“In recent years, Deltapine NPE growers have helped us commercialize varieties that use water more efficiently and varieties resistant to the root-knot nematode pest,” said Keylon Gholston, Deltapine cotton product manager for Monsanto. “The NPE program is becoming even more valuable as we continue to advance new insect, disease and weed control solutions through our product pipeline, and this year as we add new Bollgard II XtendFlex varieties to the Deltapine portfolio.”

Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton—part of the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System, which is pending regulatory approvals—is tolerant to three different herbicides: glyphosate, glufosinate and dicamba. For the limited number of growers with access to the seed technology this year, Roundup brand agricultural herbicides (glyphosate-only brands) and Liberty herbicide (glufosinate) are approved for in-crop use, while over-the-top use of dicamba is still pending regulatory approval and cannot be used.

Eight Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton variety candidates are being considered for the Deltapine Class of 16, including several bred for performance in the Texas markets and three lines with a broad fit across the northern areas of the Cotton Belt. Also being evaluated is a full-season variety candidate that the company says has shown especially good fiber length, exceptional yield and overall fiber quality performance to date. The Deltapine Class of 16 will be announced in December.

“I am looking forward to evaluating these cotton varieties. Being able to spray Liberty herbicide will be helpful until the day we’re able to experience the full Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System and experience weed control with dicamba. I’m also interested in seeing how well this system will fit with other crops being grown nearby,” said one NPE farmer, Hugh Dollar of Bainbridge, Ga.

Bryan, Texas, farmer Andy Scamardo said, “There is no doubt in my mind the NPE program has made a positive impact in this region. Because technology is changing so fast with cotton varieties, this program is a good way to let farmers look at these new varieties and see which ones fit our area. Not all varieties fit all growing regions. It’s been a very beneficial program for me and farmers in this area.” 

He also noted not being able to use dicamba in the crop’s production won't limit him in learning quite a bit anyway. “We can’t utilize the full herbicide system this season, but at least we get a chance to look at the variety germplasm that will carry this technology in large-scale plots. Until we get dicamba labeled, just the ability to tank-mix with Liberty herbicide will absolutely help our weed management program.”

More information on Deltapine cotton varieties and the NPE program is available at www.deltapine.com.