Two milestones will occur at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in January, and it’s hard to know which is more important. The industry will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Cotton Variety Testing (NCVT) program when veteran cotton research geneticist Bill Meredith delivers a special update on the history of the program.
Meredith is certainly the appropriate person to make the presentation because he has been involved in the program for more than 40 years. Many of Meredith’s colleagues say it will be the rare opportunity to give attention to the NCVT – but also salute the veteran USDA-ARS cotton breeder for his four decades of service to the industry.
Meredith is the senior author of the report, but two other noted cotton breeders – Fred Bourland of Keiser, Ark., and retired Texas breeder John Gannaway – are co-authors.
“I think of this program as the backdrop for a lot of the things we do in variety testing,” says Bourland. “It creates a platform for a lot of folks. It helps us look at relationships and trends, and it’s a fabulous data set from that perspective.”
Bourland says the beauty of the NCVT is the broad spectrum of data it contains and the timely manner in which national standards are maintained. He says Meredith’s report will be a broad overview of the NCVT and a description of variety testing trends over the past 50 years.
“He has seen the program’s potential for more than 40 years and helped it stay scientifically rigid,” he says. “Bill also is to be commended for his dogged approach to the subject matter and making sure this important program was always pointed in the right direction.”
Bourland remembers being a graduate student at the University of Arkansas in the early 1970s when he first met Meredith.
“Even back then, Bill had a wry sense of humor and was very engaging in the way he presented information to an audience,” he says. “He always had the same question when dealing with research: Does it cut the mustard? I’ve never forgotten that.”
Long Years Of Service
Dr. Ed King, Mid-South Area Director of USDA-ARS in Stoneville, Miss., echoes Bourland’s comments. He’s looking forward to hearing Meredith’s report on the NCVT’s 50th anniversary. But he’s equally appreciative of Meredith’s involvement in the program over such a long period of time.
King believes that Meredith is one of the leading cotton breeders in the country in the public sector. In particular, he points to Meredith’s discovery of the nectariless trait in germplasm development. That trait consistently showed the potential for reducing plant bug populations by 40 percent.
“I am definitely looking forward to Bill’s presentation at Beltwide, and I’m also excited that we can salute him for his long years of service,” says King. “His tenacity and dedication are wonderful. And he is rigorous in the treatment of his own data.”
Contact Tommy Horton at (901) 767-4020 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Bill Meredith at (662) 686-5322 or email@example.com.