Representatives from more than 50 countries got a glimpse of a “highly technical, highly mechanized cotton industry,” in the Texas High Plains during the fourth World Cotton Research Conference (WCRC4) held recently in Lubbock.

“This is the first time this conference has been held in the United States,” said Dean Ethridge, chairman of the WCRC4 U.S. organizing committee and managing director of the International Textile Center in Lubbock.

The conference brings scientists together to discuss common industry issues and to share “basic and applied” research information. The WCRC began in 1994 and is convened every four years. The first was held in Australia. Two others were held in Greece and South Africa. India and Brazil are vying for the next conference.

“The goal is to foster a better understanding of the global situation among the scientific community from cotton countries,” Ethridge said. He believes the meetings help demonstrate causes and effects that occur in a global cotton economy.

“Part of our opportunity as the host country is to adjust attitudes about what causes things to happen in cotton pricing and market trends.” Lubbock, Ethridge said, offers a unique opportunity to see mechanization, irrigation and technology at work.

“We have a lot of visual aids, a lot of things to see within a small radius of Lubbock. We have an opportunity to open the eyes of representatives from other parts of the world.”

A typical High Plains cotton farm includes more than 2500 acres. And that operation uses modern machinery and technology to produce high yields and high quality cotton. “That's a reality of production.”

The U.S. conference is the first to include sessions on marketing, harvesting and ginning. “It's natural to include those in a U.S. meeting,” Ethridge said.

Conference breakout sessions included technical reports from agronomists, cotton breeders, entomologists, plant pathologists, and other disciplines.

“We had experts from each discipline organize the breakouts. “I arranged the plenary (general) sessions.”

He said conference targets included biotechnology, strategic challenges and cotton competition.