The Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center at Lubbock is located in a semi-arid agricultural region with more than 6 million acres of dryland and irrigated crops. The center has access to 1800 acres of farm land, which is a vital asset to work on improving regional crops of cotton, corn, grain sorghum, peanuts, and potatoes.
The center collaborates with the USDA, the Texas Department of Agriculture, and Plains cotton growers to eradicate the boll weevil. Their success, along with integrated pest management and pest-resistant cotton varieties, has lowered the use of insecticides in High Plains cotton by more than 70%.
Key Research Areas
- Breeding programs including cotton, corn, grain sorghum, peanuts and potatoes
- Cotton germplasm screening
- Cropping Systems including plant pathology, weed science, agronomy, soil chemistry, plant physiology, and economics
- Horticultural crops including high tunnels, potatoes, and viticulture
- Pecos Station – algae, saline crop production
- The Lubbock center has found a method to improve cotton production on root-knot nematode and black root rot infested land.
- Researchers at Lubbock center have enhanced genetic diversity available to cotton breeders through phenotypic screening of cotton collections
- Researchers at the Lubbock center have found ways to increase water value through irrigation system design and management, reduce the cost of SDI by design and management, time irrigation to improve water productivity and subsurface drip irrigation, and rotate cotton with alternative crops using limited irritation
Algae for Fuel
Researchers at the Lubbock Center’s Pecos Station are on the cusp of a new biofuel that is economically competitive with current fuel prices – algae.
The Pecos Algae Research and Development Faculty is working to develop algae growth and harvesting techniques that can be commercially scaled and economically replicated in the Southwest desert regions of the U.S.
The team has already seen success. In 2013 they developed a process for harvesting algae that reduced cost of lipid production by 30%.
Stormproof and disease resistant cotton
Lubbock Center is arguably most known for developing stormproof cotton and the original mechanical cotton stripper. These discoveries changed the area from a ranching to a farming region, and influenced cotton production across the world. Researchers continue to develop new cotton germplasm with improvements such as resistance to disease and pests.
Cotton Germplasm Development
Researcher: Jane Dever
Cotton breeding research focuses on development of high quality breeding lines for the Texas High Plains (THP). Plains Cotton Improvement Program facilitates germplasm development for fiber quality, cold and drought tolerance, and disease such as Verticillium wilt, bacterial blight, and nematodes.
More than 170 germplasm lines have been distributed to THP seed companies to use in cotton breeding programs. Latest releases are Vert-resistant CA 4002; and CA 4003 and CA 4004, with 50% yarn strength improvement over current commercial cultivars.
Breeding Multiple Stress Tolerant Corn
Researcher: Wenwei Xu
The corn breeding and genetics program at the Lubbock Center focuses on developing multiple stress tolerant corn germplasm for food, feed, and/or silage by using conventional and molecular breeding objectives.
Dr. Xu introgresses desirable genes from tropical/subtropical corn and teosinte into temperate lines by using conventional and molecular breeding methods. Efforts include:
- established high throughput field evaluation method for drought and heat tolerance
- explored new laboratory and greenhouse techniques for evaluating stress tolerance
- works very closely with seed industry and producers
Peanut Breeding and Genetics Program
Researcher: Mark Burow
Dr. Burow’s program is working to release new cultivars for Texas growers incorporating high yield, improved edible seed quality as early maturity and high oleic oil, resistance to water deficit, heat and stress, and resistance to diseases such as leafspot and Sclerotinia.
The program has released 8 peanut cultivars; identified drought and heat tolerant germplasm; developed first marker map of tetraploid peanut; developed markers for resistance to nematodes, leafspot, and drought. The program has already released first estimate of linkage desequilibrum and markers for association mapping of drought tolerance in germplasm collection; transcriptome sequences of 12 tetraploid accessions plus 10 wild species; developed SMP-based map and QTLs using SMP-based markers for breeding; and published genome sequences with the Peanut Genome Project.
Potato Breeding and Variety Development Program
Researchers: Creighton Miller and Jeff Koym
The Texas Potato Breeding and Variety Development Program strives to identify improved early maturing russet, specialty, chipping, and red varieties adapted to Texas growing conditions in order to enhance the competitiveness of the Texas potato industry.
To meet their objectives, they cooperate with the North Dakota, USDA/ARS Aberdeen, ID, USDA/ARS Madison, WI, USDA/ARS Prosser, WA, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Colorado breeding programs through exchange of first-year seedling tubers and/or advanced selections. They also participate in the Western Regional Trials (russet, red/specialty and chipping) and the Southwestern Regional Trials (russet, red/specialty and chipping).
Irrigation Timing to Improved Water Productivity
Researcher: James Bordovsky
Water district rules will limit the volume of groundwater used for irrigation. Water value is affected by the irrigation timing relative to plant development. From 2010 to 2013, cotton was irrigated using 27 different irrigation regimes with treatment factors being combinations of irrigation capacities and cotton growth stages.
Results showed that, even with limited water, cotton plants can be “setup” to efficiently utilize available water during the maturation period providing opportunities for reduced irrigations in the vegetative periods.
These results, and others, are being incorporated in a new web-based irrigation scheduling tool called the Dashboard for Irrigation Efficiency Management or “DIEM” by team members from Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension and the Texas Center for Applied Technology.