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Cotton Hall of Fame inducts cotton industry legend, NMSU alum

Everyone calls Morgan Nelson Mr. Cotton. The 1941 New Mexico State University alum is a legend in the New Mexico cotton business, and in January, was inducted into the newly formed Cotton Research and Promotion Program Hall of Fame in St. Petersburg, Florida, during the group?s annual meeting.



Morgan Nelson in his backyard. The 1941 NMSU alum was inducted into the newly formed Cotton Research and Promotion Program Hall of Fame. (NMSU photo by Angela Simental)

Nelson, along with his father and NMSU professor G.N. Stroman, worked on developing the Acala 1517 variety, which put New Mexico?s cotton industry on the map.

?I remember when they developed the 1517 cotton. It made such a difference in the market,? Nelson said. ?I really think the most exciting thing was going to lobby in Washington, D.C. We had to convince the farmers that it was to their advantage. I was, and I am most proud of New Mexico growers because we stood together and supported agricultural research.?

He was honored on Jan. 9 for his leadership in the industry and was inducted into the newly formed Cotton Research and Promotion Program Hall of Fame.

?I grew up on the farm and we grew cotton, so it was a transition from my father to me,? Nelson said. ?We started growing cotton here in the Pecos Valley in 1923, when I was about 4 years old.?

However, as an NMSU student Nelson earned his degree in mechanical engineering hoping not to return to the farm.

After college, he joined the Air Force and served in World War II and the Korean conflict.

?I joined the Air Force in July before World War II began with the idea of staying for a year, but 26 years later, I retired as a colonel,? he said.

His roots called and Nelson returned to the cotton farm, joining several boards including the Cotton Incorporated, with the goal of continuing research to benefit of cotton growers.

?When you grow cotton, you are not competing in a local market, you are competing globally,? he said.


In 1993, Nelson received an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from NMSU, and he and his wife established an endowed scholarship. He also served 12 years in the New Mexico Legislature.

Nelson is an avid supporter of agricultural research and teaching. He is currently chair of the New Mexico Cotton Incorporated State Support Committee, which meets to approve research projects that will benefit New Mexico cotton growers.