Jack Jones, a career-Louisiana State University plant breeder who helped lay the foundation for today’s pest-resistant cotton varieties, has died in Baton Rouge, La. He was 89.
Dr. Jones, a native of Georgia who served as a nose gunner on a B-24 Bomber in World War II, began his career at LSU in 1950 after completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in plant pathology and plant breeding at the University of Georgia.
He was one of a group of young LSU scientists who literally revolutionized cotton production in the state at a time when yields were relatively low and most farms had fewer than 20 acres of cotton. They brought mechanization to the farms and new ways of dealing with insects and diseases.
One of those was okra-leaf cotton, varieties with narrow leaf shapes developed by Dr. Jones in the 1970s and 1980s that would open up the plant canopy and allow the cotton to dry out after rainfall events in Louisiana’s humid climate. Another significant cotton variety released by Dr. Jones was Louisiana 887, which had resistance to root-knot nematodes and Fusarium wilt.
In later years, those varieties became the forerunners to the transgenic cottons that were planted on higher percentages of acres in Louisiana and across the Cotton Belt.
Dr, Jones retired becoming Professor Emeritus in the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences (formerly Department of Agronomy) in 1988.
Besides his wife, Henrietta, he leaves a daughter, Lynda Burdette of St. Petersburg, Fla.; two grandsons, Christopher Alan Burdette Jr., Baton Rouge and Earl Taylor Burdette, St. Petersburg, FL; two brothers; and two sisters.
Funeral services will be held at Resthaven Gardens of Memory and Funeral Home, 11817 Jefferson Highway in Baton Rouge, at 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 31.The family requests donations be given to the Jack and Henrietta Jones Professorship in Agronomy, LSU Ag Center, PO Box 25203, Baton Rouge, LA 70894.