by Larry Aylward, Cotton Grower Magazine; Used by permission
When people drove by the cotton field, they noticed. And then they started talking about what they noticed.
“That was a pretty field of cotton we had out there near the road last year, and people were talking a lot about how pretty it looked,” says Bob Hyman, who farms cotton with his brother, Randy, in Oak City, NC. “It especially looked nice after we defoliated it.”
Bob and Randy, who have been farming cotton together for more than 30 years, give much of the credit for the splendid-looking cotton to the variety – Americot’s NexGen® 3195 B3XF – which the brothers first began planting in 2021. Last year, they planted NG 3195 B3XF on 200 acres, several of which were visible from a main road. The variety had people turning their heads when they drove by.
“We had several people in the area asking about the variety because they were interested in planting it,” Bob adds, noting that NG 3195 B3XF averaged a yield of slightly more than 1,300 pounds an acre. “It really did well for us.”
It did so well – also earning a premium grade for the second year in a row – that the Hyman brothers plan to plant more of the variety this season.
NG 3195 B3XF is an early-medium maturing Bollgard® 3 XtendFlex® Technology variety that offers good heat tolerance and consistent performance. It also offers high yield potential and high turnout. It has good early-season vigor and plant growth, and has the tendency to stand out from other varieties when most of the bolls have opened.
In terms of fiber quality, NG 3195 B3XF offers 39-42% turnout and a staple length of 36-37, according to Americot. Its strength is 30-31 grams per tex.
NG 3195 B3XF was one of Americot’s top-performing varieties in 2022 and consistently ranked at the top of all the Americot Cotton Evaluation (ACE) Trials across the cotton belt the past few years. It led the 2022 North Carolina/Virginia ACE Trials with a crop value of $714/acre and a lint yield of 1,287 pounds/acre and has been a top performer in the NC OVT on-farm field trials for the past two years.
Oak City is in Martin County, a heavily farmed area of cotton, tobacco, peanuts, corn, and soybeans. Last year, farmers planted about 33,000 acres of cotton in the county. NG 3195 B3XF has performed well in North Carolina and throughout the cotton belt.
Bob and Randy are both graduates of North Carolina State University. Randy has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering, and Bob has a bachelor’s in agronomy. They began farming together in 1991. In addition to cotton, they grow wheat and soybeans. This year, they are replacing their tobacco crop with clary sage, an herb that is used for medicinal purposes and as a spice.
“We’ve been in tobacco for a long time, but we are getting out of it because it’s too labor intensive, and labor costs continue to rise,” Bob says. “There’s a lot of work to do with a tobacco crop and it lasts from February through November.”
Like most any area, there are weather challenges with growing cotton in the Southeast and specifically where the Hyman brothers’ farm is located, about 100 miles from the Atlantic coast. But Bob says the biggest challenge last year was the increased cost of inputs. “Fertilizer, chemicals … all the inputs have really gone up,” he adds, noting that he expects the same challenges this year. “Last year, we were trying to save money anyway we could without hurting ourselves with what we were trying to grow.”
Regarding the weather, a dry spell can hamper the brothers’ operation because they don’t irrigate.
“We’re also about two hours from the coast. If we have any hurricanes … that can cause us a whole lot of problems,” Bob says.
Randy notes that weed control is also a challenge, particularly pigweed (Palmer amaranth), which can grow as tall as a small shade tree and rob nutrients from cotton. “It seems to be getting worse every year,” he says.
While dicamba is available to control pigweed, the Hyman brothers are hesitant to use it because it can severely impact tobacco and sweet potato growth, crops that are grown by other farmers near them. “But we might be getting to a point where we have to spray it, and just be very careful with it,” he adds.
The Hyman brothers originally planted the NG 4936 B3XF variety when they first began using Americot’s brand three years ago. But the variety didn’t yield much because of plant bug damage. Still, Bob and Randy were able to sell their crop at a premium because of its high grade.
In 2022, the Hyman brothers grew 750 acres of cotton. This year will be the fourth year they’ve used a NexGen variety. In the previous three years, the varieties received premium grades, earning an average of 3.5 to 4 cents more per pound.
The Hyman brothers are so impressed with NexGen that they plan to increase acreage of the NG 3195 B3XF variety by 50% this year to around 300 acres. With the premium grade and the improved yield, the variety has been a win-win, the brothers agree.
Bob is also impressed with the variety’s germination and emergence, not to mention its consistent vigor throughout the season. He also says it is easy to control and picks well.
“Sometimes some varieties don’t pick that clean. This variety picks clean. It looked good behind the picker when it was done being picked,” Bob says.
Even though the NG 4936 B3XF variety didn’t yield much the first year because of bug damage, Randy says he and his brother learned something from the experience: spray an insecticide earlier so it doesn’t happen again. So, with the bugs under control, the yields of NG 3195 B3XF have increased dramatically the last two seasons.
There’s not much, if anything, to not like about NG 3195 B3XF, Randy says.
“Having a field that looks snow white in the fall, and looks clean after being picked. Then you get a good yield and a good grade – that really means a lot to us,” he adds. “It’s just a nice all-around variety.”