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Extension cotton specialists honor High Plains peer

Randy Boman, associate professor and Extension agronomist – cotton at Texas A&M University’s Research and Extension Center at Lubbock, has been recognized by his peers as the 2006 Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year.

The award, which recognizes Extension specialists for their service to growers and the cotton industry, was presented at the Extension cotton specialist’s annual banquet during the 2006 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San Antonio.

Sponsored by Chemtura Corp., formerly known as Crompton Uniroyal, the annual award and banquet has been a featured event at Beltwide Cotton Conferences since 1984. Extension cotton specialists representing every cotton-producing state annually select a recipient for the award

“It’s hard to imagine a harder working individual, or one more dedicated to the cotton industry than Randy,” says Travis Miller, associate head and Extension program leader for Texas A&M’s soil and crop sciences unit. “He’s recognized as the go-to guy for cotton on the South Plains of Texas, which represents more than 3 million acres of cotton.

“Randy is deeply involved in every aspect of cotton production, but one of the highlights of his career has been his large scale systems trials, where he evaluates specific varieties and stacked traits in 1- to 2-acre plots replicated three and four times. It’s a huge undertaking, and his trials have generated very high quality data on everything from yield to fiber quality and ginning characteristics.”

Miller said he read recently that Chinese buyers are traveling to the High Plains specifically for high quality cotton. “You can pretty well track significant acreage increases for specific varieties with the varieties that have done well in Randy’s trials.”

J.C. Banks, professor and Extension cotton specialist at Oklahoma State University, and 1998 Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year, says Boman’s understanding of production farming, combined with excellent writing skills and a thorough understanding of statistics and data reporting, is a rare combination.

Huge responsibility

“Randy has responsibility for the biggest cotton patch in the world … the High and Rolling Plains of Texas,” says Banks. “His background in production agriculture, together with his experience as a station superintendent, heading a statewide soil fertility project, working as a member of an agriculture consultant team for Noble Foundation, serving as an area agronomist in the Rolling Plains of Texas, and now serving as associate professor and Extension agronomist-cotton in the largest contiguous cotton acreage in the world, enables him to relate equally well to producers, scientists, media representatives and agricultural leaders.”

Robert Lemon, professor and Extension agronomist – cotton at Texas A&M, says Boman epitomizes the consummate Extension cotton agronomist. “Not only does Randy have one of the most intensive educational and applied research programs in the country, but he also stands watch over the largest cotton patch in the world,” says Lemon.

“Since arriving in Lubbock, Randy has published 10 scientific articles, 51 Extension bulletins, 85 abstracts for professional meetings, and has conducted over 160 field-based research projects. And his educational programs are similarly robust. Randy conducts an average of 72 programs annually and was instrumental in the development of the Focus on Entomology Cotton newsletter, which reaches over 17,850 farmers and industry members each season.

“To support his extensive programs, Boman has successfully obtained over $1.5 million in grant funds. The bulk of these funds have come from external sources, which speaks volumes to the respect the cotton industry and Texas cotton producers have for him and his programs.”

Lemon said Boman is a “true team player, the best cotton agronomist I know, and a good friend. He is most deserving of this award, and I consider it a privilege to call him my colleague.”

A native of the Tipton/Snyder area of southwest Oklahoma, Boman earned his BS, MS and Ph.D. degrees from Oklahoma State University. He joined Texas A&M as an Extension cotton agronomist at Vernon, Texas, in 1995, then spent a year as a soil fertility and crop specialist for the Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Okla., before returning to Texas A&M in 1997 as assistant professor and Extension cotton specialist. He was promoted to associate professor and Extension cotton specialist in 2000. Boman and his wife, Dana, are the parents of two sons and one daughter.

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