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Eric Hequet gets NCC's 2018 Cotton Genetics Research Award

Jan '19
Eric Hequet gets NCC
Eric Hequet, a former cotton breeder and current chair of Texas Tech University’s Plant & Soil Science Department in Lubbock, has been selected by the Joint Cotton Breeding Committee as the recipient of the 2018 Cotton Genetics Research Award. The announcement was made at the 2019 Beltwide Cotton Improvement Conference by the National Cotton Council (NCC).

Hequet received a plaque and a monetary award. Hequet, who co-developed and co-released 21 improved germplasm lines of upland cotton and two cultivars, has served the cotton genetics community as a breeder, textile engineer, department chairman, and collaborator with cotton breeders in Texas, other states, and worldwide, according to a NCC press release.

According to one of his nominators, Wayne Smith, professor and associate head of Texas A&M University’s Soil and Crop Sciences Department, Hequet has conducted research into the use of high volume instrument and Advanced Fiber Information System data as selection criteria for breeders across the US and encouraged breeders to utilise these parameters in the development of improved cotton germplasm and cultivars.

Smith noted that Hequet also has been a terrific collaborator in evaluating the exceptional fibre quality material and how these improvements can lead to better yarns that will lead to better textiles for maintaining cotton as a fibre of choice.

After earning his Ph.D. in Engineering Sciences at the Université de Haute Alsace (France), Hequet worked at the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development. He came to Texas Tech in 1997 where he served five years as assistant director of the Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute before being named the Institute’s associate director – a post he still holds. In 2006, he became a research associate and professor in Tech’s Plant & Soil Science Department.

James Olvey also was honoured by the Joint Cotton Breeding Committee during the Improvement Conference. Olvey, president/cotton breeder of O&A Enterprises in Maricopa, Ariz., was recognised, in part, because of his work to identify Pima and Upland germplasm demonstrating resistance to the FOV4 race of fusarium. In 2016, he realized that FOV4, a highly virulent race of the soil-born fusarium pathogen previously confined to California, had spread to the cotton growing areas near El Paso, Texas.

Don Jones, director, Agricultural Research for Cotton Incorporated, said Olvey promptly alerted his organisation and the larger cotton community and volunteered to assist public-sector researchers on a strategy to screen germplasm to identify resistance to FOV4 which, once identified, could in turn be utilised in breeding programs to develop FOV4 resistance varieties.

Olvey’s contributions in designing and conducting the screening for resistance as well as his volunteering the use of his calibration checks are considered critical for the nation’s upland production regions to survive the spread of this fatal cotton pathogen. (GK)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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