Five cotton breeding lines released in 2006 by the University of Arkansas are adding valuable genetic traits for improved cotton varieties, said Fred Bourland, cotton breeder and director of the Northeast Research and Extension Center at Keiser, Ark. Bourland expects to release two more breeding lines before the end of the year.

“Essentially, all commercial cotton in the United States is transgenic,” Bourland said. “The primary value of conventionally-bred cotton is to provide breeding material for commercial varieties.”

The 2006 releases will make 23 cotton germplasm lines released in three years from Bourland’s breeding program, he said. Of the five released so far this year, three — Arkot 9513, Arkot 9304a and Arkot 9314 — are in industry programs for testing or being transformed into commercial cotton varieties. Two more are also on track to become varieties.

Eight releases from earlier years are also close to becoming commercial transgenic varieties.

Bourland focuses on developing genetic traits important to Arkansas growers. Such traits include being adapted to Arkansas growing conditions, disease and pest resistance, early maturity, yield stability and yield components like percentage of lint and fiber quality.

Arkot 9513, for example, one of the recently released breeding lines being evaluated for commercialization, produced more lint per seed and fewer seeds per acre than comparable commercial varieties. This combination of yield components should contribute to stable yields. It also has improved fiber length and strength, which is very important to export markets.

Reports about Arkansas cotton breeding lines and commercial varieties in the Arkansas Variety Testing Program are available on the Web at http://www.ArkansasVarietyTesting.org.