Research and breeding goals will include drought tolerance, nematode resistance and continuation of improved yield and quality. Hohls said the discovery team will interface with lab and field efforts. The team will use genetic markers to “speed up the process of developing new varieties,” he said.

Work on traits such as nematode resistance will be crucial with the recent announcement that Temik, a long-used and effective soil applied insecticide, will be phased out within the next few years.

Breeding efforts will include traditional and transgenic work. “We will look for the underlying genes that control trait differences,” Crosbie said. “Our goal is to develop better varieties for Texas.”

Hohls said the Deltapine class of 10 offered a good start on that goal. “Both DP 1032 B2RF and DP 1044 B2RF have done well.” He said storm proof characteristics make these varieties well suited to the sometimes harsh conditions of High Plains’ cotton production.

The Texas emphasis represents a change, Crosbie said. “The name Deltapine reflects the past focus. Texas was not a priority in the past. But now, 60 percent of the country’s cotton crop is grown in Texas and 40 percent is grown within an 80-mile radius of Lubbock. We needed to resource Texas and this is an appropriate emphasis — to produce varieties for the Texas market.”

He said the High Plains location offers an opportunity to tap into a knowledge base for cotton production and processing. “We have key growers here.”

Hohls said the area also offers opportunities to test for characteristics important to West Texas cotton production. “A key focus will be on drought tolerance,” he said “We will look at both breeding and biotech solutions.”