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Information farmers need: Tests improve cotton variety selection

The Arkansas Cotton Variety Test, conducted annually by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, gives producers the information they need to select varieties for the best possible cotton yields.

“The primary aim of the variety tests is to provide unbiased data about the performance of cotton varieties and advanced breeding lines in the major cotton-growing areas of Arkansas,” said Fred Bourland, director of the Northeast Research and Extension Center at Keiser, Ark. “It helps seed dealers establish marketing strategies and assist producers in choosing varieties to plant.

“The information also helps Division of Agriculture researchers to become acquainted with new genetic material, which may lead to better utilization of improved cultivars by Arkansas producers,” Bourland said.

The results of last year's variety tests are published in Arkansas Cotton Variety Test 2002, a research series available free from the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station.

To evaluate adaptation to different soils and growing conditions in Arkansas, tests of varieties and breeding lines are conducted at four University of Arkansas research stations located near Keiser, Clarkedale, Marianna and Rohwer, Ark., Bourland said. The tests are duplicated in irrigated and non-irrigated plots at Keiser and Marianna. He said 37 varieties and breeding lines were evaluated in the main test and 25 were included in the first-year test.

The publication also includes the results of the Mississippi County Cotton Variety Test (an on-farm evaluation of 12 Roundup Ready varieties) and 12 other on-farm cotton variety tests conducted by the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

Tables in the publication show cultural inputs and production information, and yield and fiber quality results for the varieties and breeding lines evaluated.

For UA cotton breeders, the variety tests are one of the research programs that will help solve yield variability, one of the major problems facing Arkansas cotton producers.

“Arkansas yields vary widely from one year to the next,” Bourland said. “Variety testing is one of many current research projects from many disciplines addressing yield variability directly or indirectly. Most experiments are repeated over time and in many locations and data from those tests consider yield variability.”

Other research areas taking yield variability into account include breeding, genetics, plant physiology, plant pathology, entomology, weed science and fertility.

To receive a free copy of Arkansas Cotton Variety Test 2002, call 479-575-5670 or e-mail and ask for Research Series 501. The publication can also be downloaded in pdf format from the Web at

Fred Miller is science editor for the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station. e-mail:

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