Bill Richardson, LSU AgCenter chancellor, updated the Louisiana Cotton Producers Association on the status of budget cuts he recently presented to the LSU System.

Producers at the organization's 41st annual meeting also heard about the latest in LSU AgCenter research on the growth and yield of cotton.

“The (state) budget situation has hit us pretty hard,” Richardson said. “We may have people stretched a lot thinner than they have been in the past. We are still here to work with you any way we can. We are not pulling up our tents; we are not going anywhere.”

Richardson encouraged the group to remind legislators that agriculture is an important industry. “This is an agrarian state,” Richardson said. “We need the land-grant universities to continue to do the research work they're doing — the Extension work they are doing — to help you maintain your viability as a farmer as best we can.

“We can't influence the price of crops, the price of diesel or the price of fertilizer, but we can make sure from a technological perspective that we are as good as we can be,” he added.

“We have some outstanding people working for you.

“Our people are first-rate,” the chancellor said. “Just like Les Miles, we are only as good as the players we put on the field.”

B. Rogers Leonard told the producers he has been named interim Extension cotton entomology specialist for the LSU AgCenter in addition to his duties as professor of entomology.

Donald Boquet, LSU AgCenter agronomist, reminded the producers that variety selection is the best way to improve fiber quality.

Each year, scientists in the LSU AgCenter evaluate cotton varieties at four locations, Boquet said.

They use the results to publish cotton production guidelines that include recommendations on planting times and that identify varieties with the potential for superior performance.

“We cannot identify the single best variety,” Boquet said. “The best approach is to select varieties based on relative performance and plant several varieties that are consistently among the top performers in variety tests.”

In many comparisons of Louisiana fiber properties to international preferences, “we are right there,” especially in strength and length, Boquet said.

Boquet said high-quality fiber is important because it ensures textile mills will find uses for the cotton and that market share will increase rather than decrease. This helps Louisiana compete with other countries and against synthetic fibers, increasing farmer income, he said.

“Variety is the key to quality,” Boquet said.

Rep. Bubba Chaney told the group he appreciates what they do. “The whole United States should be appreciative of our farmers,” he said.

Jeff Everson of Sen. Mary Landrieu's office told the producers they do “a great job of keeping us abreast of what's going on in this industry.” He reminded them to use their communication channels to vocalize what their industry has and needs.