By Seshadri Ramkumar, Professor, Texas Tech University, USA
Collective brainpower in the United States’ cotton sector descended for two days in Lubbock, Texas.
Cotton producers, researchers and academics gathered for two days (December 4-5) to discuss cutting-edge applied and field research in Lubbock. Researchers who have been funded by the U. S. cotton growers through Cotton Incorporated interacted with cotton producers to advance the industry forward.
Research focusing on transgenics to finding new applications and markets were presented. It is important to state that how engaged the cotton farmers were with the researchers and showed interest to take applicable results to their field.
Fiber yield, quality and new applications were the major themes that came across in the meeting, which had about 70 people in attendance. “We would not be here today with such highe yields and quality without research,” stated Dale Swinburn of Tulia who has been farming for fifty years in the High Plains of Texas.
In discussion with this scribe, Barry Evans, who farms 4,000 acres in Swisher County in Texas, stated that research on drought resistance due to declining water levels and new applications for cotton are important.
Varieties, chemistries, farming methods and management have significantly improved over last four decades. Steve Verett, chief executive officer of Lubbock-based Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. and a cotton producer from Crosby County, Texas highlighted the research benefits that have resulted in varieties and improved irrigation efficiency since his beginning to farm in 1977.
As over 80% of United States’ cotton crop is exported, Professor Eric Hequet of Texas Tech University emphasized on quality and preserving the quality through processing stages such as mechanical harvesting, ginning, etc.
“The industry has come a long way since my first farming days as a high school student in 1964, when herbicides were just beginning to appear,” stated Danny May who farms in the Calhoun County in South Texas.
It is important for the global cotton industry to work with all the stakeholders such as the farmers, researchers and end-users and advance the industry forward.
Sustainability in farming, energy saving, environmental protection and delivering value-added environmentally friendly products such as cotton biofilms, cotton-based oil absorbent mats, reducing plastic contamination were all discussed in the high-powered meeting.
The meeting displayed engaged participation by cotton producers, researchers and academics, which was the purpose of the event stated, Gaylon Morgan, director for agricultural and environmental research at Cary-based Cotton Incorporated.
Producer-researcher forums such as these organized by the United States’ cotton industry is surely a valuable model for the global cotton sector to follow.