Cotton Incorporated receives guidance from its producer Board of Directors, producers and importers on the Cotton Board and local Extension agents. But it also listens to you, the grassroots producer who works on the farm
“When dealing with agriculture, the farming landscape constantly changes, and we respond to the needs of those for whom we work,” says Dr. Don Jones, director of agricultural research, Cotton Incorporated.
For some growing regions, changes in pest complexes have made it feasible to use different varieties compared to what may have been used in the past.
During the last few years, Jones and his staff received requests for conventional cotton varieties from a small but growing number of cotton farmers.
“Because of this, we initiated a cotton breeder seed increase program for publically developed varieties in 2008,” he says.
Varieties chosen for increase in Arizona were previously tested in research trials for multiple years and showed excellent yields and superior fiber qualities compared to the best commercial checks.
In 2009, Jones funded some research in Texas, Arkansas, Alabama and Louisiana that allowed for the production of large farmer-grown plots containing five newly-developed conventional varieties.
“The varieties were grown against competitive checks and initial results (grown in drought-stricken Texas) showed yields that were competitive with the best checks, and fiber quality was superior as well,” says Jones.
Evaluating fiber from new variety trials is usually limited to AFIS and HVI testing, but thanks to Cotton Incorporated’s in-house fiber processing and fabric development capabilities, researchers are able to see how these cottons perform and verify the correlation between the fiber properties of these new varieties and their performance….all the way to a finished product.
“Because of these capabilities, we are able to take cotton from dirt to shirt and benefit from the various evaluation stages,” says Jones.
Project To Continue
After test plots are harvested this fall, researchers will draft recommendations to provide the farming community with a better understanding of how these varieties will perform under their local conditions.
“We expect one or more of these new varieties to show competitive yield and better fiber quality than the best commercial checks,” Jones concludes.
With that expectation, Cotton Incorporated plans on continuing this program for 2010 and beyond.
The Cotton Board, which administers the Cotton Research and Promotion Program conducted by Cotton Incorporated, contributed information for this article.