Cotton Varieties for Organic!

On the recent Organic Cotton and Peanut Tour in Seminole, Dr. Jane Dever presented an outstanding talk or “discussion” about developing cotton varieties for organic producers. Dr. Dever is the Cotton Breeder for Texas A&M AgriLife Research at Lubbock, and we depend on her work for new cotton varieties in this region. Dr. Dever talked about the challenges for developing cotton without genetically modified traits (GMO) since the South Plains is home to the largest “cotton patch” in the world. In order to prevent cross pollination, there must be plenty of separation from cotton with and without traits and that can be hard to do. She discussed how she is using the “okra leaf” characteristic, which is dominate in cotton, to distinguish non “GMO” cotton from GMO varieties. The picture below shows you how different the okra leaf characteristic is from normal cotton leaves. This characteristic will help breeders, seed companies and organic cotton growers know if a variety has GMO traits – it won’t have an Okra Shaped Leaf!!

Source: Plantae, American Society of Plant Biologists

Dr. Dever talked about her current cotton breeding work at the AG CARES facility, just north of Lamesa, with varieties that have potential to work well in organic systems. The poster below shows the variety test plot located at AG CARES. Just click on that image or photo and you can see a bigger picture with more of the details and a closer view of the QR code for directions. (If you know how to use your phone camera to scan QR codes!!)

On the back of the 2022 Demonstration Handout, Dr. Dever gave a great listing of previous cotton trials and all the data for each including yield, % turnout, and more. Click here to download that information!

Author: Bob Whitney, Regents Fellow & Extension Organic Specialist

Agriculturalist, extension educator and researcher, organic agriculture enthusiast and promoter, international program developer, Christian, husband, father and friend.

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