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New Cotton Variety to be Showcased at Field Day

LAS CRUCES -- New Mexico cotton growers will get a look at a new cotton variety during a field day at the Leyendecker Plant Science Center near Las Cruces, Oct. 11.

Researchers will discuss traits of the Sea Island cotton variety and other cultivars, said Roy Cantrell, cotton breeder with New Mexico State University's Agricultural Experiment Station. Sea Island provides a high-quality specialty crop option for farmers and is grown under contract at a premium price.

Mill buyers like the cotton's long and fine fibers that are suitable for making the finest artificial silks and polished cottons, he said.

"Not only is this a new variety of cotton, but a new class of cotton for New Mexico," Cantrell said. "It's related to Pima cotton that farmers may already be familiar with growing."

The field day also will give producers a look at other cotton varieties, an update on breeding and improvements, pest management, and insect and nematode control.

"Cotton growers, and really the entire cotton industry, have been faced with very significant challenges from insects," Cantrell said. "This is partly due to climate and weather-related factors favorable for insect development."

Field days like this one attempt to help farmers find solutions to problems by letting them know what kind of research and technology is available, he said.

"We have a long history of cotton production here in the Mesilla Valley and in New Mexico," Cantrell said. "Most cotton farmers are very experienced, very knowledgeable growers. Cotton is not viewed as a get in and get out of crop. This is an established industry that still has a lot of potential for many years in the future."

Growers will tour the center to view experimental plots and also see some demonstration plots, coordinated by NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service, on local farms.

"On the research center, we have thousands and thousands of very small plots where we're evaluating for diseases and are in various preliminary stages of developing new varieties," Cantrell said. "At some point, that is scaled up and goes into on-farm and off-station trials, which are managed by the farmer with consultation from Extension and the experiment station."

For more information about the cotton field day, contact Cantrell at (505) 646-3438.