Systems Agronomic and Economic Evaluation of Transgenic and
Conventional Varieties in the Texas High Plains
Dr. Randy Boman, Extension Agronomist-Cotton
Mr. Mark Kelley, Extension Assistant-Cotton
Mr. Alan Helm, Extension Assistant-Cotton
Texas Agricultural Extension Service
Small-plot cotton variety testing generally includes evaluation of genetic components but not genetics in concert with management programs. Characteristics commonly evaluated in small-plot testing include lint yield, turnout percentages, fiber quality, and earliness. Over the last 3 years, High Plains cotton producers have increased planted acres of transgenic cottons (Roundup- and Buctril-herbicide tolerant and Bt insect-resistant types) from approximately 300 thousand in 1997 to over 2 million in 1999. Industry continues to increase the number of herbicide-tolerant, insect-resistant, and “stacked gene” varieties. For the 2000 crop season, Delta and Pine Land companies (Paymaster, Deltapine and Sure-Grow) offered 12 Roundup Ready, 11 Bollgard, 13 Bollgard/Roundup Ready “stacked gene” picker varieties; and 6 Roundup Ready, 2 Bollgard, and 2 Bollgard/Roundup Ready “stacked gene” stripper types. Stoneville Pedigreed Seed and Stoneville Texas sold two BXN varieties (one picker type, one stripper type) and a Bollgard picker variety. The proliferation of transgenic varieties in the marketplace over the next few years is expected to continue. Increasing numbers of both picker and stripper releases are projected from the Delta and Pine Land companies and Stoneville Pedigreed Seed/Stoneville Texas. Liberty herbicide tolerant varieties from Aventis are currently in development and should be available within the next few years. Additional “stacked” Bt gene products (Bollgard II) from Monsanto are also anticipated. Current small-plot variety testing programs are inadequate in scale and design to investigate the economic impact of new transgenic varieties with value-added traits.
1. Compare yields, commercial gin turnout, and fiber quality of popular conventional and transgenic varieties on a large-scale basis.
2. Determine the efficacy of transgenic weed and insect control systems in producer-cooperator fields.
3. Determine the economics of transgenic varieties when compared to conventional types in producer-cooperator fields.