Texas Rolling Plains Extension Agronomist and State Peanut Specialist Emi Kimura, Vernon, received the 2022 Dr. J. Tom Cothren Outstanding Young Cotton Physiologist Award at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences Jan. 6, in San Antonio, Texas.
Although she was unable to attend, she said she's honored to be this year's recipient.
"I could not be more honored to receive the Dr. Tom Cothren Outstanding Young Cotton Agronomist Award," Kimura said in an email to Farm Press. "This award means a lot to me.
"I completed my M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in forage agronomy in Wyoming and Washington States. Forage does not produce bolls and lint," Kimura said jokingly. "I started my position with minimum cotton agronomic background in 2015 and had a steep learning curve on all aspects of cotton."
She credits the cotton community for helping her learn. "I was surrounded by cotton gurus including cotton farmers, industry and university colleagues. Because of them, I was able to learn and develop my cotton program. I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to all who supported my journey."
Colleague Paul DeLaune, professor, Environmental Soil Science, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Vernon, who not only nominated Kimura for the award also presented and accepted it on her behalf.
Colleague Paul DeLaune, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, announces Emi Kimura's award. (Photo by Shelley E. Huguley)
"This candidate had never worked with cotton before – never seen a cotton plant before, she said. But she came to Texas, so she had to learn a little bit about cotton," DeLaune told the crowd. "Coming to the Rolling Plains, not only was she a cotton agronomist but she also stuck with her appointment of being the range plant specialist as well. She started out as 75% Extension agronomist and 25% rangeland specialist.
"The thing is people in the cotton industry and cotton producers didn't realize she had this split appointment because she was able to give them the information they needed and did it in a way that they didn't realize she had other responsibilities."
DeLaune said Kimura is well-respected among producers and by many sitting in the room at the Beltwide Cotton Agronomy, Physiology and Soil Conference. "She's recognized for what she does, not necessarily quantity but the quality of what she does."
In 2018, Kimura dropped her rangeland appointment to become the state peanut specialist. "She does a little bit of everything," DeLaune said, "but when it comes to cotton, she's definitely recognized, not only on the Texas Rolling Plains but throughout and beyond West Texas."
Kimura obtained her B.S. in botany and M.S. in agronomy at the University of Wyoming and Ph.D. in agronomy at Washington State University. Since 2015, her program has focused on developing environmentally and economically sustainable crop production systems in the Rolling Plains through applied research on BMPs, education and outreach efforts. Primary crops include peanut, cotton, wheat, sorghum, forage, oil seeds, and alternative crops.
As the cotton agronomist, Kimura said she develops her program and research topics based on questions she receives from producers at county meetings, conferences and on phone calls. Questions raised to county Extension agents by their producers also influence her.
"When I receive same questions three times, cotton seeds are planted in the next opportunity with an appropriate study design to answer the question," Kimura said. "When I first started my position, I received a lot of questions regarding plant population of recent cotton varieties and how they affected yield and quality; therefore, the first study I conducted was population study."
Next, she conducted a weed control trial comparing the three cotton technologies. "I am conducting a study comparing interactions among planting dates, population, and maturity. I was able to answer some of the questions that producers had through the applied research trials and provide options for their decisions.
"I am excited to be a part of the cotton community and hope to provide decision-aids for profitable cotton production."
When Kimura considers the role Beltwide has played in her career, she describes it as critical to improving and updating herself on current cotton research. "It has also helped me connect with colleagues for collaborative work as well. I was not able to attend this year’s conference as I had to take care of my newborn, but I am excited to attend the 2023 Beltwide Cotton Conference. "
Several colleagues praised Kimura in support letters.
Gaylon Morgan, director of Agricultural and Environmental Research, Cotton Incorporated, wrote:
"Dr. Kimura quickly learned about crop production in the Rolling Plains has continued to impress everyone with her tenacious dedication to developing a strong and dependable applied research and outreach program in the Rolling Plains with a focus on cotton, but also other prominent crops in the region. There is no one more passionate about helping the growers within her region and across the state than Dr. Kimura, and clientele love her for it.
"Dr. Kimura has built a very strong applied research and outreach program by working closely with the network of county agents, fellow specialists and researchers, commodity organizations, and influential growers. She has become the expert and a team player in the Rolling Plains for cotton, peanuts, wheat, sorghum, and alternative crops."
Larry Redmon, Regents Fellow, associate department head, and Extension program leader, Soil and Crop Sciences Department, Texas A&M University, stated:
"Each year she provides valuable information regarding the RACE (Replicated Agronomic Cotton Evaluation) variety trials. Along with her other colleagues who work across the state in cotton, this information enables cotton growers to have the latest information regarding which cotton varieties may help them to remain economically viable. But, beyond that valuable information, she also performs basic scientific science regarding agronomic issues such as seeding rates, fertility trials, row spacing, which crops to use in rotation with cotton, etc. In short, she has become one of the most valued resources regarding cotton in the Rolling Plains region of Texas.
"Dr. Kimura is the consummate team player as illustrated by the many different research proposals she is asked to help provide leadership on."
Paul DeLaune, professor, Environmental Soil Science, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Vernon, wrote: "Working closely with Dr. Kimura, I have had the joy of not only working with her, but also seeing her work with others. I have always been amazed at how efficient she is in analyzing data (survey or analytical) and presenting that data in a stakeholder-friendly manner. She always does what she says she will do and often delivers ahead of schedule. This, along with being a humble individual who is well-spoken and interacts well with all she encounters, it is easy to see why she has been well accepted and respected by peers, county Extension agents, farmers, and ranchers. All enjoy both working with her and working for her.
"Overall, Dr. Kimura is a model Extension specialist who has provided expertise in various areas to diverse groups of people."
The Dr. J. Tom Cothren Outstanding Young Cotton Physiologist Award is sponsored by Corteva and PhytoGen.