Many West Texas growers currently irrigate but in-season water availability varies widely. Some are able to irrigate to 100 percent of evapotranspiration rate; others can apply no more than 40 percent.

“We want to test for yield with different levels of ET,” Hohls said, “and release varieties best suited to different ET levels for maximum return. Our focus is on profitability.”

The new center will have 20 full-time employees (up to 50 in peak work seasons), including three cotton breeders.

“We will demolish the buildings at our Hale Center facility,” Hohls said. “We will keep an equipment shed and the fields for testing.”

Hale Center employees will work out of the new Lubbock facility.

The Monsanto Texas Cotton Breeding and Technology Center cost $10.5 million to build and is located on a 12.2 acre site within the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance Business Park. 

“Megasite” is a term Monsanto uses to describe a research facility which houses multiple programs focused on improving genetic performance.  Monsanto has another cotton megasite in Scott, Miss.. 

The megasite joins three other Monsanto facilities located in Texas — the Hale Center Research Farm and testing programs in Haskell and Corpus Christi.

 “Our Integrated Texas Testing Program, which includes new efforts in South Texas, will be based here, and our Biotechnology Trait Development Pipeline team will be researching water use efficiency,” said Kendall Bonds, Monsanto’s U.S. Cotton Testing Lead.  An Environmental Safety & Health team is also located in the Lubbock facility.

The Texas Cotton Breeding and Technology Center is part of Monsanto’s increased emphasis on breeding and testing. “We have doubled the size of our U.S. testing operations, in both number of locations and plots,” Hohls said.

The Texas Center includes state-of-the-art research equipment to process cotton to lint and seed. Special planting and harvest equipment support the variety trial sites.