Farm Feature | Cotton

Texas Trifecta: Technology, weed control and management spell success in West Texas

Farming in West Texas can be a tough challenge season to season, with little rainfall, limited water available for irrigation and relentless heat and blowing sand during summer months. Yet, in this harsh growing environment, despite all the other challenges, weed pressure can be another obstacle to a successful crop.

In Plainview, Texas, Steve Olson adheres to a fairly strict crop rotation: a third cotton, a third wheat, a third corn. Moisture is oftentimes a limiting factor to get cotton up and growing, and preventing weeds from competing with young cotton for moisture is an annual objective.

"Our growing environment is harsh and we don't have a lot of extra water, so we do not need weeds taking water or nutrients away from the crop," Olson says.

Steve Olson, Texas Farmer

Olson's cotton acres have a variety of weed species, including Russian thistle, marestail, bindweed, ragweed and Johnsongrass. As resistance to glyphosate crept onto his farm a few seasons ago, he decided to switch to cotton with XtendFlex® Technology.

"We felt like the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System was the most cost-effective way to manage our weed problems, and we've seen it to be true," he says. "Roundup® brand agricultural herbicide is still really good on weeds like Johnsongrass and several other weeds, but since the development of glyphosate-resistance problems, the system has been able to alleviate issues for us."

Early Management

Olson's weed management program has always included pre-emergence residual herbicides and overlapping modes of action. His strategy is to start clean and hit escaped weeds when they are small. He'll do a burndown application in his fields 30 days prior to planting. Behind the planter, he'll run Roundup PowerMAX® herbicide and Warrant® Herbicide for pre-emergence residual activity. Once the crop has emerged to about the first-true leaf stage, he makes an application of Roundup PowerMAX herbicide plus XtendiMax® herbicide with VaporGrip® Technology (Restricted Use Pesticide) plus Outlook® herbicide. Sometimes he'll make a Liberty® herbicide application depending on weather conditions, which provides another site of action in fields that may need one.

"I think the biggest thing is to catch weeds when they're small, and don't let yourself get behind the curve," Olson says. "We've not had the issues that people have talked about with the volatility because we've just always tried to spray when it's the right time to spray and use the right nozzle and the right pressure to get good coverage. We've been very successful with the program."

Without a doubt, says Olson, the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System has improved cotton production on his farm.

"It works, and you know, we're able to do exactly what we need to do," he says. "We're able to produce so many more pounds because we're not competing with weeds."

We felt like the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System was the most cost-effective way to manage our weed problems. Steve Olson / Texas Farmer

Technology Shifts

Olson has had success growing Bollgard II® XtendFlex® cotton varieties, such as DP 1612 B2XF, and he chooses his varieties based on genetics and performance. He says Deltapine® varieties have performed well in good growing seasons and hung on in tough seasons to make good yield.

The Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton has been key in preventing bollworms from reducing yield potential. In 2019, he planted and grew Bollgard® 3 XtendFlex cotton varieties from Deltapine, looking for added insect protection in the same high-yielding genetics he has become accustomed to growing.

"The Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton that we've had in the past has been really good, because we haven't sprayed for bollworm in I don't know how long," he says. "Now, we're growing a lot of the Bollgard 3 XtendFlex cotton varieties, and they've been really good too."

New technologies to manage pests, proven genetics and sound management decisions help this West Texas farmer be productive and successful. A little rain from Mother Nature doesn't hurt, either.

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