Results Are in for the 2015 on-Farm Cotton Variety Evaluation Program !!! (Collins & Edmisten)

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After a seemingly endless harvest season, the results are finally in for the 2015 On-Farm Cotton Variety Evaluation Program!! This program was a huge success in 2015, thanks to the substantial support from the NC Cotton Producers Association, NCDA&CS, NC State University, our Seed Companies, and Cotton Incorporated. This program was only made possible through their leadership and support, and the significant effort from our county agents, consultants, and cooperating growers through implementing this program in 17 trials across the state. The contributions of all involved are much appreciated, and will have significant impact on our growers’ bottom line as we look forward to 2016.

As discussed in previous articles, this program consists of the most widely adapted and best-fit varieties for NC cotton growers as determined by our leading seed companies. It is always advised that variety decisions be based on multi-environment and multi-year replicated data in order to identify varieties with a high degree of stability (strong performance across a wide range of environmental conditions). It is also advised that growers observe data from both the on-farm program and NCSU Official Variety Trials (OVT) which will be available very soon. Both programs serve as platforms for effective evaluation of variety performance, but are different in several regards. One of the primary strengths of the on-farm program is the vast number of environments that are effectively captured in a given season. However, OVT can accommodate many more varieties than we can effectively evaluate in an on-farm trial, and many of our seed companies have several competitive varieties for NC producers. Together, the on-farm and OVT programs collectively offer a complete means for making variety decisions.

Within the first year alone, the on-farm program has clearly demonstrated that variety selection is one of the most important decisions a grower can make that will significantly impact their profitability in a given year. Depending on the degree of variety selection error, the 2015 on-farm trials clearly illustrated that producers could lose an average of $120 to $156 per acre due to improper variety selection, with a statewide economic value of $45,600,000 to $59,280,000!! Keep in mind, that these figures are based on performance of the best varieties from each brand, therefore a producer could do much worse than this.

Variety performance information will be discussed in much greater detail during the upcoming winter meetings (look for meeting dates/locations for your county at Additionally, your local county agent is an excellent resource for variety selection, so please contact them for your local trial results and they will be happy to share those results with you. The slides below offer a summary of variety performance across the state and by region. The second slide illustrates the combined average yield over all locations for the 10 varieties in each trial. Also listed is the percentage of trials in which a variety was the Top performer, within the Top 2 performers, or within the Top 3 performers. As you can clearly see, no variety wins all trials, however there are some that consistently perform very well across a wide range of environmental conditions, soil types, planting dates, management strategies, etc. which indicates a high degree of stability. Slides 3 and 4 illustrate variety performance for low-yielding environments (trials that yielded less than 1000 lbs/A) and high-yielding environments (trials that yielded above 1000 lbs/A). Some varieties performed well in both situations, however other may rank higher in one type of environment compared to the other. This could help in understanding how to position certain varieties where they will perform competitively in sandy verus heavier ground or irrigated versus dryland situations. Slides 5 – 9 illustrate variety performance in each region. In these slides, variety performance was averaged across a number of nearby trials (the more locations in any analysis, the stronger it will be).

2015 On-Farm Cotton Variety Trial Yields

Again, results from the on-farm program along with OVT will be discussed in much greater detail during the upcoming winter meetings, so be sure to attend one near you. Also, we want to again reiterate our appreciation to all of our leadership organizations (NC Cotton Producers Association, NCDA&CS, NCSU, Cotton Inc.) and Seed Companies for their efforts and support in starting this program for the benefit of all NC cotton growers, as well the diligence and hard work that our county agents, consultants, and cooperating growers put into this program during 2015. This program was a huge success in 2015 due to the efforts of all involved and we look forward to another year of this program in 2016!!