Cotton Incorporated's focus on breeding and genetics “is a proactive plan that will work to turn around the trend of stagnant U.S. cotton yields and declining fiber qualities,” says the organization's vice president of agricultural research.

Roy Cantrell, veteran geneticist and cotton breeder, said at Cotton Incorporated's annual meeting in San Diego, that the initiative will include an emphasis on precision farming projects, along with education and promotion of the importance of various conservation tillage methods.

“These tillage practices not only can reduce erosion and save fuel, they also preserve valuable nutrients in the seedbed,” he said.

Restoring profitability to U.S. cotton producers will remain the cumulative goal of Cotton Incorporated's research programs, Cantrell said.

“We managed 195 core projects and 195 grassroots state support projects in 2001, and we'll make sure each proposed 2002 project is conducted with this underlying goal.”

In a discussion of genomics, Cantrell described the cotton breeding process — locating a specific DNA pair out of some 2.4 billion pairs — as the proverbial “finding a needle in a haystack.”

Cotton Board Agriculture Committee chairman Bob McGinnis, an Arkansas producer, said the recent hiring of Cantrell was a move “that will lead our Agricultural Division in the direction that will pay dividends for U.S. cotton producers in the future.

“With Dr. Cantrell's background and contacts within the breeder community, he is eminently qualified to lead the division and this new initiative.”

Cotton Incorporated is well-prepared, he said, to implement 2002 research and promotion plans, based on “research designed to capitalize on everhy market expansion opportunity for U.S. cotton.”

At the meeting, California cotton producer Jim Hansen ended his tenure as Cotton Board chairman and was succeeded by Texas producer Eddie Smith.

“Under Jim Hansen's leadership, we saw the opening of the world's most advanced cotton research facility at Cary, N.C.,” Smith said.

“He helped to strengthen our resolve at a time when the U.S. textile industry started to decline, and showed us the importance of remaining aggressive in our research and promotion efforts.”

Hansen commended Cotton Incorporated's ability “to recognize and react to ever-changing world cotton market conditions.”

Other 2002 Cotton Board officers include Arkansas producer William S. “Bill” Weaver, vice chairman; George producer S. Louie Perry, Jr., secretary; and California producer Ted D. Sheely, treasurer.