Dr. Mark Kelley was named the new Texas AgriLife Extension Service cotton agronomist at Lubbock effective Oct. 15, said Dr. Travis Miller, program leader, for the soil and crop sciences AgriLife Extension unit at College Station.

Kelley is headquartered at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Lubbock.

Miller, who is Kelley’s supervisor, said, “We are very pleased Dr. Kelley has accepted this key cotton post. Mark brings a vast amount of experience with many aspects of the cotton industry to this position. Kelley is no newcomer to the Lubbock area having worked with his predecessor Dr. Randy Boman for years.

“Texas is the ‘cotton state’ with 7.1 million acres planted or 52 percent of the total U.S. acreage planted this year. Mark will deal with the majority of this cotton real estate as more than 4.3 million acres were planted this year in his area.

“Dr. Kelley will be developing and focusing on applied field research and AgriLife Extension programming designed to bring the latest technology to this vast cotton production area.”

Kelley holds a doctorate in agronomy and a master’s in crop science from Texas Tech University and a bachelor’s degree in agriculture business-animal science from Cameron University in Lawton, Okla.

Kelley has been an AgriLife Extension program cotton specialist at the Lubbock center since 2003. He started his Extension career as assistant to the Oklahoma state cotton specialist at Altus in 1990. In 1998, he was named AgriLife Extension assistant-cotton for District 2, headquartered at Lubbock.

Kelley said cotton variety testing will remain a large part of his new job, but that other production factors will also come into play.

“Irrigation management for optimum yields will become more important, especially after the year we’ve just had,” Kelley said. “As profit margins tighten, management decisions to improve fiber quality, soil fertility and nutrient management will also become a very important part of my work.

“I want to say that I really look forward to continuing my work with my Texas AgriLife Research and Extension colleagues here at the Lubbock center, those across the state, and friends at Texas Tech University and in neighboring states and across the Cotton Belt. I hope to work closely with scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and industry as well.

“Finally, we have some of the best agriculture and integrated pest management AgriLife Extension agents in the state here in Districts 1 and 2 and I look forward to continuing to work closely with them.”

Kelley takes the position vacated by Boman, who became the new research director and cotton Extension program leader with the department of plant and soil sciences at Oklahoma State University at Altus on March 1.