Limited Refuge Options for Dryland Cotton growers

03 December, 2002

___Limited refuge options for dryland situations could result in fewer benefits from new two gene cotton technology._

Dr Gary Fitt, chief executive of the Australian Cotton CRC, told delegates to the first Australian Dryland Cotton Workshop at Sanctuary Cove last week, that similar resistance management plans will be required for two gene cotton as for Ingard or single gene varieties.

While corn, sorghum and pigeon peas are among alternative refuges recommended for irrigated cotton, conventional cotton (sprayed or unsprayed) may remain the only practical refuge solution for dryland situations.

The Dryland Workshop was organised by the Australian Cotton Cooperative Research Centre and Cotton Seed Distributors, whose extension and development team comprising Rob Eveleigh, John Marshall and Greg Kauter, chaired individual sessions during the two-day event.

Dr Fitt told the Conference that rigorous regulations had been applied to research protocols involving field trials with two gene cotton.

These restrictions have forced researchers to reduce the number of trial sites, extending the time required to accumulate vital scientific data in support of the new technology.

Dr Fitt said the first commercial varieties of two gene cotton should be in the field in the 2003 planting year, provided regulatory approval is obtained.

He said both single gene (Ingard) and two gene (Bollgard 11) varieties will probably be planted in 2004, which would serve as a transition year, with Ingard technology then being withdrawn and only two gene cotton allowed thereafter.

While there is currently a cap of 30 per cent on the area that can be planted to single gene cotton, Dr Fitt said there was no scientific reason why a significantly higher cap, double or even treble that figure, could not be implemented with two gene cotton.

However, Dr Fitt warned that two gene cotton will further alter the balance of insect pests, with possible increases in aphids and green vegetable bug populations, which will require an appropriate integrated pest management approach.

*p. _Further Information: Robert Eveleigh, John Marshall, Greg Kauter or Craig McDonald_