Monsanto announces development of six new high-yielding cotton varieties

Monsanto Company has announced the development of six new verities of the `Deltapine' class of cotton. More than 160 farmers across the US cotton belt participated in the new product exposure programme this summer, testing some of the 13 candidates on their farms Monsanto said in a release on Monday.

The feedback from these farmers and the data from plots show an increase in on-farm profitability potential, the release noted.

"This weekend we had the chance to preview the Class of 10 with a lot of the farmers who helped us decide which would be commercialised," said Brett Begemann, executive vice president. "The yields they reported with our new products provide a real bright spot for the cotton industry," he added.

"Arkansas farmer Ron Holthouse told us as he harvested his plots he thought about acreage for next year. He had considered cutting his cotton to one-third of the area he had in 2009 but the performance he saw with our new varieties convinced him to stay with his full 3,000 acres," Begemann said.

"Our overall cotton yield was bad off this year due to excessive rain the entire fall. The NPE plot was in a field that averaged only 956 pounds per acre across all varieties, but the Class of 10 candidates averaged between 1,050 to 1,200 pounds per acre," Monsanto quoted Holthouse as saying.

"I grew two Class of 10 candidates and they both exceeded 4 bales to the acre - over 2,000 pounds. One product went 4 2/3 bales per acre and the other made 4 1/3 bales per acre and the quality on both was excellent. They stripped well and they were not too loose in the boll. They were fairly storm-proof and excellent yielders," Monsanto quoted another farmer Kirby Lewis of Lubbock of Texas as saying.

Dave Albers, Monsanto's cotton germplasm lead, said farmers in Texas saw an average of 40-50 pounds of lint per acre with the Class of 09 compared to commercial standards and the Class of 10 brought an additional average of 50 pounds. In field trials east of Texas, yield averages were 50-100 pounds more per acre with the Class of 09 compared to current standards and the Class of 10 yielded an additional 100-200 pounds, he added.

The USDA has estimated that the Class 09 was planted on more than 10 per cent of the cotton area last year. While seed production in some areas was repotted to be low, the company said availability of the Class of 09 would go up in 2010 and the Class of 10 will be in a good introductory supply.