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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

ARS 50th Anniversary Celebration

Logo Image for "A R S : The Future Grows Here"Agricultural Research Service
50th Anniversary

Local Event

Western Cotton Research Laboratory
Phoenix AZ


Brief History of the Western Cotton Research Laboratory (WCRL), Phoenix, AZ

1969 WCRL, Entomology Research Division, Cotton Insect Research Branch was constructed during 1969 to 1970 following spread of the pink bollworm (PBW) from eastern AZ to CA during 1963-1965.

1972 WCRL dedication and as a result of an ARS reorganization – WCRL became part of the ARS Western Region, Northern Arizona Area, headquarters, Phoenix, AZ.

1974 Full staffing of 25 SY, 2 post-doctoral appointees and 65-70 total employees. Three research units; Cotton Entomology, Cotton Physiology, Cotton Host Plant Resistance

1974-1985 WCRL, ARS Organizational Associations-Northern Arizona, Area Office closed, consolidated into the AZ-NM Area, headquarters at Tucson, AZ; 1980 - AZ-NM Area consolidated with ID, MT, UT. Area to become the Arid Southwest Area (ASA), headquarters at Logan, UT; 1984 - ASA consolidated with AZ-NM to become the Mountain States Area (MTA) with AZ, CO, NV, NM, UT, WY, headquarters at Ft. Collins, CO; 1985 - ARS regions abolished, Pacific West Area established with AK, AZ, CA, HI, ID, NV, OR, WA.

1985-2002 Urban encroachment – 1991 feasibility study for new lab location, U of A, Maricopa Agricultural Research Center selected. Numerous within laboratory changes. Currently two Research Units, 13 SY; Cotton Insect Pest Management/Biological Control, Cotton Physiology/Genetics and Host Plant Resistance Research.

Pima breeding as a separate ARS unit abolished. Pima genetics and germplasm improvement assigned to Cotton Plant Resistance Unit.

2002-2006 Final Congressional appropriation for the new Maricopa facility, 2003. Targeted date for relocation and consolidation of WCRL and Soil and Water Conservation Labs.

Some major accomplishments

Cotton Entomology

Baculovirus and tissue culture-plaque assay; commercially adopted lepidopteran feeding stimulant, late-season cotton boll-PBW diapause relationship, perennial cotton ecology and increased pests and disease, short-season cotton, quantifying predation, PBW sterile moth release, PBW pheromone behavioral control, sweetpotato whitefly (SPW) 5-year plan, SPW threshold-based IPM, ARS Glassy-winged Sharpshooter Response Team.

Cotton Physiology

Irrigation system to relieve cotton plant stress; cotton square shed analysis, cotton nitrogen deficiency stomatal closure and water stress, temperature-abscisic acid stomata relationships, stomatal response and abscisic acid (ABA), ABA and guard cell responses, ABA and cotton seed vivipary, cotton leaf photosynthesis-cotton boll sugar-ethylene production and abscission, photoperiod and carbon linkage to leaf sucrose and starch breakdown in the dark, biochemical mechanism for inhibition of photosynthesis by heat stress, carbohydrate (CH2O)n demand, boll tissue sucrose synthase and (CH2O)n for bolls and yield.

Cotton Host Plant Resistance and Plant Breeding

PBW and nectariless cotton, PBW resistant variety reduced insecticide use 60-70%, 40 sources of PBW resistant cotton germplasm, PBW and nearly immune transgenic cotton, cotton leaf crumple resistance.
Pima S-7 cultivar, heat tolerance and stomata conductance. Okra leaf nectariless, early maturity, high fiber quality Pima germplasm lines (18) and 230 elite breeding lines released.

A Brief History of the
USDA Pima Cotton Breeding Program

1897 H. J. Webber assumed the leadership of plant breeding research in the USDA. He began an initiative to introduce Egyptian extra –long staple (ELS) cotton into the American Southwest.

1901 The first experimental production of Egyptian ELS cotton in the U.S. occurred in Yuma, AZ.

1908 The USDA American-Egyptian ELS cotton breeding program moved to the Gila River Pima Indian reservation at Sacaton, AZ.

1910 The first USDA developed American-Egyptian cultivar “Yuma” was released. American ELS cottons began to assume the generic name “Pima”.

1953 Establishment of the Agricultural Research Service.

1957 The USDA field station at Sacaton was closed and the Pima breeding program moved to the University of Arizona Cotton Research Center, Phoenix, AZ.

1986 The Pima breeding program organizationally became part of the Cotton and Insects Genetics Research unit of the Western Cotton Research Laboratory, Phoenix, AZ.

1987 The Pima breeding program moved into the University of Arizona Maricopa Agriculture Center, Maricopa, AZ.

1993 The Pima breeding program (cultivar development) was abolished and the Pima genetics and germplasm enhancement project was established.


Major Accomplishments

1910 First cultivar, “Yuma”, developed by T.H. Kearney, was released.

1918 The cultivar “Pima”, developed by T.H. Kearney, was released.

1935 The cultivar “SxP”, developed by T.H. Kearney, was released.

1936 The cultivar “Amsak”, developed by R. Peebles, was released.

1948 The cultivar “Pima 32”, developed by R. Peebles, was released.

1957 The cultivar “Pima S-1” was released by the USDA, ARS and the State of Arizona.

1960 The cultivar “Pima S-2”, developed by C.V. Feaster, was released.

1966 The cultivar “Pima S-3”, developed by E.F. Young, was released.

1966 The cultivar “Pima S-4”, developed by C.V. Feaster and E.L. Turcotte, was released.

1975 The cultivar “Pima S-5”, developed by C.V. Feaster and E.L. Turcotte, was released.

1983 The cultivar “Pima S-6”, developed by C.V. Feaster and E.L. Turcotte, was released.

1991 The cultivar “Pima S-7”, developed by E.L. Turcotte, R.G. Percy, and C.V. Feaster, was released.

For over eighty years the USDA, and later the USDA, ARS, supported the Pima cotton industry of the southwest through cultivar development. The advancements the USDA, ARS were partially responsible for the expansion of the Pima cotton industry into the San Joaquin Valley of California and the commercialization of Pima cotton breeding in the early 1990’s.



No photos available at this time.






Last Modified: 8/22/2016