Chris Main, associate professor and Extension cotton specialist with the University of Tennessee, has been recognized by his peers from across the Cotton Belt as the 2011 Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year.

Dr. Main, a weed scientist by training who has worked on herbicide resistance issues, received the award at the Extension cotton specialists’ annual banquet on Jan. 5 during the 2011 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in Atlanta.

Sponsored by Bayer CropScience, the annual award and banquet has been a featured event at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences since 1984. Extension cotton specialists representing every cotton-producing state select a recipient annually based on leadership and industry service.

Darrin Dodds, Extension cotton specialist at Mississippi State University, has worked closely with Main over the past several years and said he has an excellent track record of tailoring his research to meet his growers’ exact needs.

“He’s not afraid to tackle difficult subjects, which speaks volumes of his character,” Dodds said. “Everything Chris does, he has his growers in mind. His goal is to give his growers what they need to be more productive.”

Main oversees all of the University of Tennessee Official Variety Trial sites. Dodds said because Main has approached these trials with careful diligence, he has greatly aided his growers with the variety selection process, which has become increasingly difficult in an era where dozens of new cotton varieties hit the market each year.

“Chris leads an active research program that delivers accurate, reliable test data year after year,” Dodds said.

Beyond OVT trial management, Main is highly involved in a broad range of cotton agronomic research that covers seeding rates, planting dates, plant growth regulators, nematode management, nitrogen fertility, harvest aids and more. Holistically, this research emphasizes the long-term sustainability of cotton production.

But Main’s commitment to cotton does not stop at the Tennessee state line. As the president of the Extension Cotton Specialists Working Group, Main helps coordinate research projects across the Cotton Belt. He also presides over this group’s annual workshop at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences.

Main’s expertise has also been shared across the Cotton Belt through his numerous authored Extension publications, refereed articles, newsletters, workshops, presentations and more. He is also a trusted resource with the agricultural media, appearing in multiple articles from trade publications; radio and television interviews; and online webinars.

“Chris is never looking for glory – he’s just looking for answers,” Dodds said.

Steve Nichols, U.S. agronomic manager, said Bayer CropScience is pleased to be the first to congratulate Main and is extremely proud to be the continued sponsor of this longstanding award.

“Extension has a special and unique role in the cotton industry, and we are glad we can help recognize the accomplishments and achievements of Chris Main,” Nichols said. “He is clearly dedicated to keeping Tennessee growers, as well as U.S. growers across the Cotton Belt, viable and sustainable for future generations.”

Main received his bachelor’s degree in plant and soil science from the University of Tennessee, his master’s degree in agronomy from the University of Florida, and his Ph.D. in plants, soils and insects from the University of Tennessee.