Friday, May 8, 2009 By Shawn Wade
Planting season is here again and High Plains cotton producers are busy putting seed in the ground. Despite less than ideal conditions, many growers acknowledge that the situation is generally better than what they faced at this time in 2008.
The majority of the improvement has come from initially lower costs for fuel and fertilizer compared to last year. Soil moisture conditions are also generally better due to residual deep moisture that many dryland growers hope to be able to tap into later in the year if they can get enough planting rainfall to get a crop established.
Soil moisture in many dryland areas is still short in the seed bed, meaning that many growers will have to begin putting seed into dry soil in anticipation of a rainfall event, or events, that will allow seed germination and also provide adequate moisture to sustain the crop.
Even though the moisture situation could easily move in a positive direction over the next few weeks and ensure a good start, dry conditions will continue to be a looming threat in 2009. Fortunately, cotton seed and biotechnology providers have once again stepped up with programs to share some of the risk associated with growing the crop and using higher cost seed and technology.
For High Plains cotton producers who plant cotton seed from All-Tex Seed, Americot/NexGen, Croplan Genetics, Delta & Pine Land and FiberMax/AFD/Stoneville the extra protection provided by Replant and Seed Drought Relief Programs will help lessen the anxiety of establishing a new crop in less than ideal conditions over the next few weeks.
Having been around for several years, operations of the various risk sharing programs are fairly well understood. Even though they have very similar designs producers should take the time to read the applicable program requirements for each company they will be dealing with and understand exactly what the differences are between each company's program.
Copies of company provided information sheets outlining covered varieties, specific eligibility requirements, claim deadlines and procedures are available for viewing or download from the Plains Cotton Growers website (http://www.plainscotton.org). For assistance in answering a more specific question about their own situation growers are advised to contact their cottonseed distributor or appropriate seed company representatives.
Roundup Rewards Eligibility Changes: Not For Everyone
One new wrinkle that has been introduced by Monsanto in 2009 involves a reduced Roundup Rewards eligibility requirement for acreage planted to certain varieties containing Monsanto traits.
Under the revised Roundup Rewards policy a West Texas cotton grower can qualify for full 2009 Roundup Rewards benefits on all acres planted to Delta & Pine Land cotton seed varieties with a SINGLE application of Roundup brand herbicide at a rate of 22 ounces per acre and a minimum Deltapine seed purchase of 25 bags.
Following this initial announcement from Deltapine, Monsanto has also reached agreement with several other West Texas seed companies that will extend the reduced Roundup Rewards eligibility requirement to their varieties as well.
According to confirmed information available at the time of this article, cotton acreage planted to varieties containing Monsanto traits purchased from All-Tex Seed, Americot/NexGen, and Croplan Genetics (in addition to Deltapine varieties) will qualify for full Roundup Rewards benefits with the single in-season Roundup brand herbicide application
Like Deltapine, information from each of the above named companies indicates they will also require a 25 bag minimum purchase of Monsanto-traited planting seed. To date there has been no confirmation of whether Dyna-Gro or Phytogen brand cotton varieties will also benefit from reduced Roundup Rewards eligibility requirements.
Currently, Bayer CropScience's Fibermax, Stoneville and AFD cottonseed varieties are not participating in the revised Monsanto Roundup Rewards policy.
For now at least, growers who plant Bayer's Fibermax, Stoneville and AFD brand cotton seed varieties will still have to meet the normal Roundup Rewards eligibility requirement of at least two (2) in-season Roundup brand herbicide applications at the minimum 22 ounce per acre rate to qualify for full Roundup Rewards benefits, including Monsanto Replant and Drought Relief programs.
Replant and Drought Relief
The following is a brief description of the Replant and Drought Relief programs being offered in 2009.
On the replant relief front, there are two flavors of protection available to eligible growers. The first is offered directly from Monsanto. The Monsanto Trait Replant program provides for a 100 percent technology fee refund on the growers initial Monsanto trait purchase when replanting to an eligible crop containing a Monsanto trait and fulfilling the requirements for participation in the Roundup Rewards program.
The following cotton seed companies, All-Tex Seed, Americot/NexGen, Croplan Genetics, Delta & Pine Land and FiberMax/AFD/Stoneville cotton seed have announced availability of a replant reimbursement equal to 100 percent f the suggested retail price of the initial planting seed purchase when growers replant to another variety from the same company in the same season.
Claim deadlines for both the Trait and Seed replant programs may differ, so growers are advised to review the available literature on these programs mentioned above, or contact their seed distributor or company sales representative for further information.
In addition to the popular replant programs on trait and seed, dryland cotton producers who plant an enhanced variety containing an eligible Monsanto trait may also be eligible for a full refund on their Monsanto trait investment plus a portion of their planting seed cost if their final harvested yield is less than 150 pounds per planted acre.
Known collectively as Drought Relief programs, these efforts are like their Replant Program cousins, offered from both Monsanto on the trait side and by the individual seed companies on the seed. Participation in the Monsanto Drought Relief program also hinges on fulfillment of applicable Roundup Rewards eligibility requirements.
The mechanics of the Drought Relief programs are all fairly similar in that crops are generally considered a loss if the actual or estimated lint yield is less than 150 pounds per land acre, verified by either production evidence or a Federal Crop Insurance claim that includes an estimated yield of less than 150 pounds per land acre.
The Monsanto Trait Drought Relief program will refund 100 percent of a growers trait investment on any acreage planted to cotton varieties containing Monsanto traits and average less than 150 pounds per planted acre.
A review of information on the various drought relief programs being offered by the seed companies indicates a wide variety of claim notification; claim submission and seed cost refund benefits. The majority of the seed refund programs are designed to return up to 50 percent of the suggested retail price of the planting seed they purchased on drought affected dryland acreage.
Because of the highly variable way that the seed company programs work it is important the growers stay in contact with their seed distributor or sales representative to participate.