Pursuing Softer Cotton, More Resilient Peanuts

— Written By

Merritt Melancon | Jul 25, 2018 – Southeast FarmPress

The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences plant breeders almost $1 million in grants this fiscal year to produce improved cotton and peanut varieties.

These plant breeders have been tapped to make Georgia’s most profitable row crops more sustainable and productive.

Regents’ Professor Andrew Paterson, director of the Plant Genome Mapping Laboratory and member of the CAES Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and the Franklin College departments of Plant Biology and Genetics, and Peng Chee, his fellow crop and soil sciences professor, are pinpointing cotton genes that affect the length of cotton fibers.

Longer fibers lead to softer cotton fabrics and a higher per-pound price for farmers.

Paterson and Chee will focus on upland cotton, which is a common name for the cotton species most widely grown in the U.S. Georgia farmers grew more than 1 million acres and $967 million worth of upland cotton in 2016.

Upland cotton typically produces cotton with short or medium fibers, and those fibers can be even shorter if the cotton plant is stressed. However, mutations of upland cotton created by the researchers produce longer fibers.

Supported by a $490,000 NIFA grant, Paterson and Chee will map genes connected to superior fiber qualities in this mutated upland cotton. Eventually, they will incorporate those genes into cotton varieties known for their hardiness, productivity, and efficiency.

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Pursuing softer cotton, more resilient peanuts