Cotton specialists tour extension research fields -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Cotton specialists tour extension research fields

Dr. Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, evaluates one of the cotton plants in the research field. Dr. Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist, evaluates one of the cotton plants in the research field.
Guy Collins, Cotton Ergonomist Guy Collins, Cotton Ergonomist
Dr. Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist Dr. Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist

The Georgia Cotton Commission discussed some of the latest crop research while touring fields in Tifton Friday.

The research advisory board visited the Rural Development Center at the University of Georgia Tifton Extension to see the latest results in the battle against bugs, a reduction in pesticide use and the benefits of genetically modified cotton.

The specialists wandering through the Extension's cotton field were evaluating the results of the latest tests and advancements in the industry.

"We're show casing to the research advisory board that represents the growers interest.  And it gives us the opportunity for interaction between the cotton growers and what's going on here on the station," said Guy Collins, Cotton Ergonomist.

And the field represents some of the recent advancements with plants that are genetically modified to resist most pests and damage from herbicides. 

But a pest that attacks the plants at early life stages has become a big topic. 

"One of the things we're talking about primarily today was about thrips. So we're using an insecticide at planting for control of thrips.  But probably what we're most excited about is some non-insecticidal controls to help us manage thirps, or keep those numbers low," said Dr. Phillip Roberts, Extension Entomologist. 

Roberts said pesticide use has dramatically decreased over the last few decades, making cotton safer for consumers and the environment.

And with the explosion of genetically modified varieties of cotton plants across the nation, growers only spray for bugs a couple times each season.

"It's been a great benefit on the environment by reducing the number of insecticides needed.  So it's actually been a very positive thing for the cotton industry, not only for in Georgia, but across the U.S.,," said Roberts.

He said naturally occurring bacteria in the soil is used to create the genetically modified plants.

And while the seeds and tech packs for these crops are more expensive up front, researchers said they pay off in the long term.

"What we're trying to do is save the growers their dollars.  And make them more profitable throughout the growing season.  And defining management practices that will make them more profitable," said Collins.

Collins said researchers are busy working on more economical research and advancements that could be right on the horizon.

Collins said the cotton industry is constantly changing, and has new varieties released onto the market every year.

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