It’s time that we go back and take a close look at the upland long staple cottons as a source of new genes to raise the current cotton production system to a new level of competitive capability in the global cotton textile industry, says cotton breeder Hal Lewis.
Lewis also urged the cotton industry to develop an accurate and reliable methodology for estimating the magnitude and variance of critical fiber properties. “It is equally essential that the marketplace establish equitable value parameters for such fiber attributes so that the economic interest of all parties are fairly recognized. We must reward growers for producing this higher fiber quality cotton. The present marketing system refuses to place value on good, desirable traits. It also must be recognized that cotton is not really a commodity but is truly an identity preserved product. With cotton, every bale is classified, and its properties are measured on its own and stay with it and are never mixed until it reaches the textile mill.
“The cotton industry needs to step forward and provide the leadership and direction which will motivate the science and technology sectors to ensure future success in global competition. We cannot wait for the future; we must create it ourselves.”
Lewis led preliminary work that resulted in the development of the cotton module builder, the boll weevil eradication program and the micronaire test procedure that helps producers find the best time to defoliate and harvest. Lewis also introduced three cotton varieties, four commercial soybean varieties and two commercial grain sorghum hybrids. He currently serves as president and general manager of Scientific Seed Company. In 2007, he was inducted into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame for making significant contributions to the state’s agriculture.