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LOGO: Journal of Cotton Science

 

History and Current Research in the USDA-ARS Cotton Breeding Program at Stoneville, MS

Authors: Linghe Zeng, Salliana R. Stetina, John E. Erpelding, Efrem Bechere, Rick B. Turley, and Jodi Scheffler
Pages: 24-35
Breeding and Genetics

Cotton breeders have focused mainly on selecting for high yield and early maturity under the impact of the boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis Boh.) in the last century. Selection for high fiber quality was once a less important objective in cotton breeding. With the transition of the U.S. cotton industry from a domestic consumer to a major exporter of raw fibers into the global market and the technology advancements in the textile industry since the 1990s, the need for high fiber quality in cotton cultivars has increased. In recent years, genetic improvement in cultivars for insect resistance, disease resistance, and abiotic stress tolerance has become important for maintaining cotton yield. Under strong competition from other major crops, increasing profit in cotton production has become an urgent task for cotton breeders and increasing economic potential in cottonseed and other economic traits can help promote profits for cotton growers. In this paper, the major research projects related to cotton breeding at the USDA-ARS at Stoneville, MS since the 1960s are reviewed. These research projects reflect the changing needs in cotton production during the period and focus on broadening the genetic base of Upland cotton for improving agronomic traits and fiber quality in cotton cultivars by a group of scientists with different scientific disciplines. A comprehensive review of this research can help develop strategies and identify research fields to strengthen to meet challenges in future.