Submitted to: World Cotton Research Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/10/2007
Publication Date: 9/10/2007
Citation: Ulloa, M., Percy, R., Hutmacher, R., Zhang, J. 2007. The Future of Cotton Breeding in the Western United States. World Cotton Research Conference Proceedings.
Technical Abstract: Traditional breeding efforts dramatically transformed the cotton (Gossypium spp.) plant during the last century. In the coming decade, the high priority breeding objectives for production regions of the western U.S. (far-western Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California) will involve morphologically complex traits controlled by many interacting genes. While perennial concerns regarding yield, response to pests (lygus, thrips, aphids, and whitefly), and disease resistance (seedling fungal diseases, fusarium and verticillum wilts, and root-knot nematode:disease associations) remain, plant characteristics conferring improved water-use efficiency, heat tolerance, and fiber quality and uniformity will become increasingly important to the cotton industry. With the rapid changes in cotton acreage, production practices, and markets, growers and breeders continue to face many challenges. In New Mexico, the unavailability of transgenic Acala varieties before the year 2000, plantings of conventional Acala 1517 cotton (G. hirsutum) decreased to 5% of total cotton acreage by 2005. However, with the release of Bt Acala 1517 that same year, plantings increased to 14% of total acreage in 2006. In Arizona, improvements in productivity and fiber quality in American Pima (G. barbadense) were made possible by emphasizing selection for adaptation to high temperature environments. However, yield losses caused by heat stress continue to be significant in Upland, Pima and Acala cottons – averaging about 12% annually in Arizona alone. Further improvements will require the development of better selection tools for heat tolerance. In California, Fusarium wilt race 4 currently poses new challenges, making breeding for resistance against this pathogen a priority. With cotton acres declining in the western production region from approximately 2 million in the 1970s to less than 700,000 today, and a continuing shift from Acala to Pima production, sustainability of the industry will likely require emphasis on high yields, reductions in inputs per production unit, and lint whose characteristics attract premium prices.