New seed cotton technology launched

29 June, 2009

Australia’s largest cotton seed producer, Cotton Seed Distributors (CSD) has released the first commercial cotton variety containing both the Bollgard II® trait from Monsanto and Liberty Link® trait from Bayer Cropscience.

Speaking on CSD’s Web on Wednesday this week, CSD General Manager Steve Ainsworth said Sicot 70BL signalled the start of an exciting new era in technology for Australian cotton growers.

“It adds another robust weed management technology in the grower’s tool kit and we know its going to be popular.”

The Bollgard II trait provides in-built protection against the larvae of Helicoverpa, cotton’s most serious pest in Australia, while the Liberty Link trait gives the plants season-long tolerance to Liberty 200 Herbicide which is particularly effective against broad-leafed weeds.

Steve Ainsworth said a particular benefit of Liberty herbicide is that it will control weeds that are poorly controlled by Roundup.

”We believe growers will find this technology very useful in managing hard to kill weeds like peach vine, volunteer cotton and fleabane,” Mr Ainsworth said.

CSIRO cotton breeder Dr Shiming Liu said two years evaluating Sicot 70BL revealed it to have similar yield potential to Sicot 71BR, the most popular Australian cotton variety in recent seasons.

“We found it to be within two percent yield of Sicot 71BR but with improved fibre qualities, particularly staple length and micronaire.”

“The length is about one thirty-second of an inch better and, micronaire about 0.3 less and the strength is similar so we’re very happy with this.”

“It has a Fusarium and Verticillium resistance rank around 100, similar to that of Sicot 71BR.”

“Sicot 70BL has a slightly more vigorous growth habit compared to other Sicot 71 type varieties, but otherwise it is quite similar,” Dr Liu said.

Fellow CSIRO plant breeder Dr Greg Constable said these improved fibre quality traits mean Sicot 70BL may have some fit in dryland and wide-row irrigation situations but suggested there would be varieties more suited to these purposes coming out in the future.

“We have a broad range of varieties under development in the Bollgard II and Liberty class – some from parentage in the Sicot 80 and Sicot 75 families which people are familiar with and some from new backgrounds,” Dr Constable said.

Steve Ainsworth said there are limited quantities of Sicot 70BL this season but he is ensuring there will be enough seed for all interested growers wanting to try some in the upcoming planting.

“We’re intending to hold an ‘expressions of interest’ with our grower members who will receive information on this in the mail in the next few weeks and they have until the end of July to get back to us.”

“People won’t be able to properly use the technology in a split field situation with conventional or Roundup Ready Flex cotton because of potential herbicide drift problems so we’re keen to see growers get enough seed to plant a full field and manage it properly,” Mr Ainsworth said.