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Story in Brief

The cotton industry in Georgia has changed drastically in the last 10 years. Commodity prices have decreased and growers have moved from planting predominately one variety (DPL 555) to using several each year in their farm portfolio. Seed companies release new varieties each year to compete for Georgia’s market. Knowledge with regard to technology packages, disease resistance, yield potential and uniformity are critical for Jeff Davis County grower success. The Jeff Davis Extension agent addressed the issue by providing local on-farm cotton variety trials each year for the past three years. The On-Farm Variety Trials, established by the UGA Extension Cotton Team, is a program for uniform evaluation of cotton variety performance in on-farm situations at the county level. This program expands the number of environments for evaluation by encompassing about 20 locations across the state each year. Yield data is compiled and shared at grower meetings at the end of the season. These research plots offer the opportunity for the county agent and grower to see how varieties respond to the challenges of each growing season. Yield data from the research trial is the main goal, but it also offers a baseline across varieties for troubleshooting yearly environmental issues. The yield difference in the top and bottom yielding varieties in the trial for the past three years averaged 218 pounds of lint per acre. Growers who selected top performing varieties would gain $148 per acre on farms planted to those varieties. The unique challenges of each year showcase how the new varieties handle those stressors. Growers see the yield potential of nematode resistant varieties, disease issues, heat sensitivity during the dry 2019, and hurricane resistance as evidenced in 2018.