Breeder's Viewpoint

David S. Howle


As a breeder representing a commercial variety development program which has emphasized fiber quality since its inception, the subject of accurate, reliable measurement of the various fiber quality parameters has been a critical one for many years.

The accuracy, reliability, and precision of these measurements are critical in any program, but especially in a program such as ours where high standards for quality have been paramount in the breeders' selection process for so long. If a breeder is working with material which requires much improvement to meet textile industry demands, then relatively course measurements may provide adequate data for selection of improved lines. However, in a program with existing levels of relatively high quality fiber, very small differences in quality characteristics must be detected in order to insure meaningful selection for improvement.

Therefore, it has been determined that in our breeding program, the current high volume instrument technology is inadequate for detecting these small differences reliably. The individual laboratory instruments such as the fibronaire, stelometer, and fibronaire must be used in our program to ensure adequate selection for improved quality.

Our major concern here is the time and expenses involved with the use of these instruments. There is a definite limit to the amount of quality evaluation a breeder can afford to do with these instruments in any given year as a result of these time and expense limitations.

A fast, inexpensive system which provides the level of accuracy and precision required for detecting small differences in individual parameters would greatly enhance the breeders' ability to select improved lines which offer the balance of fiber property characteristics demanded by the textile industry.

From a breeding standpoint, it must be pointed out that while development of such a system represents a critical need for cotton breeders, it is not likely that such a development would result in immediate development of high quality cotton varieties. Cotton breeding, especially for fiber quality, is a slow and tedious process. It is very difficult and time consuming to develop varieties which offer improved fiber quality while maintaining acceptable agronomic properties.

Also, and perhaps most importantly, until the marketing structure for cotton reflects the demand for high quality fiber, yield will continue to be the breeders' primary objective.

Reprinted from Proceedings: 1989 Beltwide Cotton Production Conference pg. 97
©National Cotton Council, Memphis TN

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Document last modified Sunday, Dec 6 1998