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Future of Cotton Research Boosted by A$35 Million

16 March 2012

AUSTRALIA - At the Cotton Breeding Australia Symposium in Narrabri, NSW, CSIRO and Cotton Seed Distributors announced a five-year, A$35 million extension to their existing agreement, to fund projects through the Cotton Breeding Australia joint venture, which has been running since 2007.

The Cotton Breeding Australia joint venture funds research which is providing long-term benefits for the Australian cotton industry including improved quality; higher yields; drought and heat tolerance; water use efficiency and pest and disease resistance.

CSIRO Division of Plant Industry's Chief, Dr Jeremy Burdon, said the new agreement is building on the progress of the valuable research, which is already delivering results to cotton growers.

“The extension of the agreement is proof of the huge benefits Cotton Breeding Australia’s research is having for the cotton industry. A clear example is the future development of cotton varieties with elevated resistance to mites and whitefly, which will reduce costs and reliance on pesticides,“ Dr Burdon said.

“We have also developed molecular markers for resistance to diseases such as Cotton Bunchy Top virus, which will allow us to develop resistant varieties, and we are similarly researching resistance to Black Root Rot and Alternaria fungi.

”The Cotton Breeding Australia joint venture is a remarkable collaboration between breeders, biotechnology research, pathology and post-harvest processing that is ensuring the best performance in our new varieties,” Dr Burdon said.The new agreement, formally announced at the Symposium, extends the collaboration for a further five years, from its current termination date of 2017 to 2022. The A$35 million comprises funding from CSIRO and Cotton Seed Distributor.

“CSIRO and Cotton Seed Distributor’s joint venture has continued to deliver the yield increase which has averaged around 1.5 per cent increase each year over the past 20 years. Scientific research requires a long term commitment and the current high performing varieties are the results of years, sometimes decades, of research and development,” Dr Burdon said.“The extension to the collaboration provides ongoing certainty to both CSIRO and Cotton Seed Distributors.”

“CSIRO-bred varieties currently comprise the entire Australian market and we are pleased our expertise in biotechnology and core breeding is delivering results in the field,” he said.

The Symposium brought together representatives and growers from the cotton industry to share new developments and discuss ways to combat the challenges which the industry may face in coming years.CSD has been working with CSIRO for nearly 30 years and Cotton Seed Distributor’s managing director, Peter Graham says the collaboration with CSIRO and industry has been rewarding.

“Continued investment in research and development is required for Australia to remain globally competitive. Australia’s cotton industry is currently worth over A$2 billion annually,” Mr Graham said.

“We are focussed on improving our growers’ productivity and profits. Our past achievements include new varieties with improved yield, disease resistance and fibre quality. The high rate of adoption of the new varieties by cotton growers shows that the breeding and research by Cotton Breeding Australia is benefitting growers’ bottom lines.

“We also recognise the importance of the Cotton Research and Development Corporation and Cotton Australia’s (as the Australian Cotton Growers Research Association) prior contribution to the Australian cotton breeding program,” Mr Graham said.

TheCropSite News Desk

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