Although cotton producers in the West have seen a decrease in Cotton Research and Promotion Program (CRPP) State Support Program (SSP) funding over the past few years due to the decline of cotton production in the region, the SSP continues to finance important projects in California, Arizona and New Mexico.
Following closely the mission of Cotton Incorporated, the SSP strives to improve the demand for and profitability of cotton. However, strategies and activities created under this program are designed to address the specific needs of individual cotton-producing states. Every year, approximately 7.5 percent of the producer funds collected by the CRPP are returned to each state.
These funds are divided among the states according to production levels. Each state’s grower-led committee sets priorities, requests proposals from local research institutions, and allocates its share of the SSP funds. Once projects have been identified by the committee, they are managed by the Agricultural and Environmental Research staff of Cotton Incorporated.
Focus On Fusarium, IPM
This season, California producers focused on Fusarium and insect control where they can leverage their SSP funding with cooperation from Cotton Incorporated core funding.
“Strides have been made in breeding for Race 4 Fusarium wilt resistance,” says Steve Wilbur, California State Support Committee Chairman. Along with researchers in Texas, California is looking at improvements in cotton varieties that can resist old and new cotton diseases.
California cotton producers are also concerned about insect pressures. “Why are we still studying aphids, lygus and whitefly?” asks Wilbur. “They morph, they change and many of our crop protection tools are being taken away.”
Continued research helps producers understand how to use the crop protection tools and what thresholds need to be used to keep pests in check. Diligently following these thresholds is important for economic insect control.
The Arizona SSP also makes insect research a priority. Through the work of Dr. Peter Ellsworth, his University of Arizona team and cooperating producers, pressure from whiteflies has decreased despite the changing availability of protection tools and some evidence of creeping resistance.
“Timing is everything,” says Ellsworth. “And thresholds provide important guidance to ensure our crop chemicals work effectively and efficiently. They are like the guardrails on the highway that prevent you from careening off the side of a mountain. While there is leeway within your lane, adhering to thresholds is important in order to keep insects in check. Strict adherence can determine the success or failure of the treatment and the crop.”
Root Rot And Aflatoxin Research
Arizona has also had success managing cotton root rot with help from the SSP. Cotton root rot can develop anywhere in Arizona, but the more seriously infected fields have been in Eastern Arizona. Using information from research done in Texas, effective programs have been developed for use in Arizona.
Additional program funds are helping with cotton variety trials and in developing biological control of aflatoxin in Arizona cottonseed.
One of the most auspicious SSP projects has been New Mexico’s success with breeding glandless cotton varieties. Two high-yielding varieties have been submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for release. As part of a cotton sustainability project, glandless cottonseed meal was used to grow shrimp in a demonstration project in Las Cruces, N.M. Researchers have established a small processing pilot plant to identify value-added potential of glandless cotton.
For more information on the SSP, please visit www.cottoninc.com/State-Support-Program.
Brent Murphree is the Cotton Board’s Regional Communication Manager for the West. Contact him at email@example.com or (602) 810-1171.