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Dr. Wayne Smith | Dr. Steve Hague


Central and South Texas encompass six unique and diverse cotton production areas; 1. Lower Rio Grande Valley, 2. Coastal Bend, 3. Upper Coast, 4. Valleys of the Brazos, Colorado and Trinity rivers, 5. Blacklands, and 6. Winter Garden. About 50% of the production in the Lower Rio Grande River Valley, the central river valleys and the Upper Coast is irrigated production and essentially 100% of the Winter Garden production is irrigated. Cotton grown in the other regions and the remainder of those above is produced without supplemental irrigation. Annual rainfall in these areas range from about 50 inches in the Upper Coast region to about 25 inches in the Blacklands, Corpus, Kingsville and Lower Rio Grande Valley production areas. Rainfall distribution in most years is less than desired with the majority coming during the winter months with little rainfall occurring in July and August.

In addition to rainfall amounts and distribution, these production areas usually experiences significant annual infestations of fleahopper (Pseudatooscelis seriatus, Reuter), thrips (Frankliniella spp.), bollworm (Helicoverpa zea, Boddie) and tobacco budworm (Heliothis virescens). Other pests include aphids (Aphis gossypii, Glover), whitefly (Bemisia tabaci, Gennadius) and, occasionally, Lygus spp. Boll weevil (Anthonomous grandis Boh.) infestations have been severely curtailed in all regions and essentially eliminated in many through the Boll Weevil Eradication Program and transgenic cultivars containing Bt toxin control boll worm and bud worm outbreaks.

These production restraints mandate that the Cotton Improvement Laboratory develop germplasm/cultivars with meaningful levels of resistance to both biotic and abiotic stresses occurring in Central and South Texas. Germplasms having favorable combinations of resistance to one or more of these stresses and/or having favorable agronomic characteristics are released to other public and private breeding programs in the U.S. and in other countries for incorporation into cultivar development programs.

Fiber quality parameters have become paramount in recent years with the improvements in spinning technology and the need to be more competitive in a global market. The CIL has developed and released a number of strains with improved fiber length and/or fiber strength. These strains are used by private industry to incorporate improved fiber quality traits into cultivars available to Texas’ producers.



Development of improved cotton germplasm and cultivars adapted to Central and South Texas; advise graduate students; teach Plant Breeding (SCSC 641), Host Plant Resistance to Insects and Diseases (SCSC 610), and Grain, Fiber and Oilseed Crops (SCSC 306).



Breeding nurseries and performance trials are conducted at Research and Extension Centers at Weslaco, Corpus Christi, Commerce, and Chillicothe, at the Texas AgriLife Research Farm at College Station, producer fields in the Coastal Bend, and at the Stiles Foundation Farm. Advance strains being considered for release as cultivars may be evaluated in other areas of Texas and the U.S. through collaborative efforts.



Development of superior germplasm that will enhance the productivity, improve the product quality, and/or decrease production costs is the primary goal of the Cotton Improvement Laboratory. Appropriate parental stocks are hand crossed each year to initiate a cycle of segregating material. Progeny are assessed visually in the F1; performance tested as F2 populations; single plants selected in the F3; progeny rows visually selected as F4's and F5's; and strains performance tested at 6-10 locations during the F5-8 generations.



The Cotton Improvement Laboratory has identified five major areas where genetic enhancement would be valuable to the producers of Central and South Texas. These are:

Yield Potential: Average per acre yield in the U.S. has increased from 180 pounds of lint/acre at the turn of the century to near 800 pounds in 2007. Genetic improvement in yield potential must continue if American producers are to remain competitive in world markets.

Earliness: Earlier maturing or faster fruiting cultivars will recover and produce an acceptable "crop" following delayed planting, early season insect predation, or early season production hazards such as hail or extended rains. Earlier maturity allows producers in South Texas to harvest before the hurricane season and allows producers in more northern areas to harvest during late summer before the probability of inclement weather increases.

Fiber Quality: Improvements in fiber spinning equipment mandate that new cultivars cotton have longer, finer, stronger, more uniform, and more mature fibers than their predecessors. The Cotton Improvement Laboratory has a strong commitment to improving fiber quality through collaborative efforts with the Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute at Texas Tech University.

Host Plant Resistance: The Cotton Improvement Laboratory employs field selection for resistance to the bollworm, and the tobacco budworm in approximately 500 strains each year. Resistance to fleahopper and spidermite also are evaluated in these lines under natural infestation.

Abiotic stresses such as drought and heat are evaluated through the process of selection and performance testing advanced germplasm at Corpus Christi, Thrall, and Dallas (Blacklands) where extended periods of drought are experienced each year. Specially designed nurseries at College station are utilized to quantify levels of drought resistance.


Selected Publications

Book and Book Chapters

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