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Cotton fiber development: 'cotton is a complex crop'

Developmental concerns following unseasonable temperatures

Shelley E. Huguley, Editor

October 8, 2020

In the Southwest, the 2020 cotton crop has endured drought, triple-digit temperatures, hail, gusting winds, and a September cold front that dropped temperatures into the upper 30s and, in portions of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, into the lower 30s. 

Farm Press visited with Brendan Kelly, assistant professor for cotton fiber phenomics, Texas Tech University, to discuss fiber development and developmental concerns raised when an untimely cold spell occurs.

"There are many different factors in terms of how the bolls are set on the plant, when they were set on the plant, the physiological processes feeding those bolls and how they're affected by cold temperatures," Kelly explains. "Cotton is a complex crop."

Kelly, who also has a joint appointment with Texas A&M AgriLife Research, focuses on measurement assessment of cotton fiber quality and determining the impact of that quality on end-product performance. 

How much the drought or September's wintery visit affected the region's crop, won't likely be known until the cotton is stripped, ginned and classed. "It goes back to distribution. How do we know what bolls were in which stage in which field when that cold front came? What bolls were in a slow, photosynthetic time period, trying to develop the secondary cell wall? It's difficult to say. Development is so varied across the region, it can depend on the variety and all kinds of other things."

Watch this video to learn more. 


About the Author(s)

Shelley E. Huguley

Editor, Southwest Farm Press

Shelley Huguley has been involved in agriculture for the last 25 years. She began her career in agricultural communications at the Texas Forest Service West Texas Nursery in Lubbock, where she developed and produced the Windbreak Quarterly, a newspaper about windbreak trees and their benefit to wildlife, production agriculture and livestock operations. While with the Forest Service she also served as an information officer and team leader on fires during the 1998 fire season and later produced the Firebrands newsletter that was distributed quarterly throughout Texas to Volunteer Fire Departments. Her most personal involvement in agriculture also came in 1998, when she married the love of her life and cotton farmer Preston Huguley of Olton, Texas. As a farmwife, she knows first-hand the ups and downs of farming, the endless decisions made each season based on “if” it rains, “if” the drought continues, “if” the market holds. She is the bookkeeper for their family farming operation and cherishes moments on the farm such as taking harvest meals to the field or starting a sprinkler in the summer with the whole family lending a hand. Shelley has also freelanced for agricultural companies such as Olton CO-OP Gin, producing the newsletter Cotton Connections while also designing marketing materials to promote the gin. She has published articles in agricultural publications such as Southwest Farm Press while also volunteering her marketing and writing skills to non-profit organizations such as Refuge Services, an equine-assisted therapy group in Lubbock. She and her husband reside in Olton with their three children Breely, Brennon and HalleeKate.

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