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From Farm To Fabric: The Many Faces Of Cotton - The 74th Plenary Meeting of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC)
12/06/2015 - 12/11/2015

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12/07/2015 - 12/11/2015

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Hybrid Cotton Hazera™ Getting Noticed

Interspecific hybrid offers cotton growers and the textile industry alternatives in fiber quality and growing conditions.

T he concept of interspecific hybrid cotton received significant exposure and discussion at the National Cotton Council’s most recent Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San Antonio. Five sessions were dedicated to updates from around the world and included discussions of the potential of hybrid cotton. While Israel-based Hazera Genetics Ltd.’s presentation focused on a new short-season hybrid cotton variety, the other four presentations discussed the promising future of hybrid cotton, especially in terms of it being a significant future source for quality fiber.

The idea behind the interspecific hybrid cotton is the conventional, non-genetically modified organism (GMO) combination of the best characteristics of the upland/Acala cotton with Pima cotton in a single plant. It is important to note the conventional crossing process leading to the creation of the hybrid variety differs inherently from the use in GMO technologies, and aims at improving traits such as yield, fiber quality and water consumption. Until now, use of GMO technology in cotton was focused in other directions.

The upland/Acala cotton is well-known for its high yield, but it has relatively low fiber quality. On the other hand, Pima cotton excels in high-quality fiber, but it is relatively low-yielding and can be grown only in limited areas around the world. The combination of the traits of high-yield and high-quality fiber, as enhanced by the hybrid heterosis, provides a recipe for a winning cotton.

Yet, in the crossing process, some negative characteristics also may be transferred to the hybrid, while other, positive characteristics may wane. Breeding wisdom consists of thoroughly understanding the process of inheriting genetic traits and developing such parent lines that would result in a winning hybrid.

Hybrid cotton has many advantages and few shortcomings. The existing hybrid cotton varieties have shown similar yield to the upland/ Acala varieties and have excelled in comparison with ordinary Pima varieties. HA195, the leading cotton hybrid from Hazera Genetics, has been shown in the last five consecutive years of trials conducted by the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) to yield more lint per acre than any other tested variety (See Figure 1)


Although they sell as extra-long-staple (ELS) cotton, the hybrid cotton varieties still lag behind Pima in terms of fiber quality. On the other hand, the hybrid heterosis results in extremely high vigor and rapid plant growth, dictating a controlled management from the second irrigation onwards. Therefore, the water use efficiency (WUE) of the plants is very high, and rain-fed management or water saving under an irrigation regime can be considered. In addition, the hybrids have shown a tendency to mature 10 to 14 days earlier than Pima, which in many areas means damage from autumn rain can be avoided.

Although ginning of hybrid cotton is 10-percent slower than for Pima, the biggest advantage of Hybrid Cotton Hazera™ is its high adaptability to a wide range of growing conditions all over the world. There are hybrids for the long season of California and for the short season of northern Greece, and, notably, the hybrid cotton has shown outstanding adaptability to marginal ground, where other ELS cotton varieties perform poorly.

The history of the interspecific Hybrid Cotton Hazera is rooted, like many other inventions, in the rising standard of living and the constant search for new products to meet exacting market demands. The textile industry has for many years been seeking high-quality fiber at a moderate price to create better yarns, fabrics and clothing. Because Pima fiber can be grown only in limited areas and yields are low — which accounts for its high price — the idea of interspecific hybrid cotton crept in.

Twenty years ago, most of the big seed companies were engaged in various attempts in the area of interspecific hybrid cotton. Most of them fled the battle after failing in the seed production process, while a few are still engaged with intraspecific Hirsutum X Hirsutom hybrids. Where others have failed, Yechiel Tal, Ph.D., a Hazera Genetics breeder, has succeeded, utilizing cytoplasmic male sterility technology.

It took Hybrid Cotton Hazera fiber four years to make an entry into the marketplace. Eighty thousand bales in California and Peru pushed the ginners, merchants and spinners to study this new fiber and make the most of it.

The ginning, spinning and weaving industries are accustomed to working with short, weak and rough fiber such as upland; or with long, strong and fine fiber such as Pima; and mixes of these two. Hybrid Cotton Hazera challenged the industries with ELS fiber that is slightly shorter and weaker than Pima fiber, as fine as Pima, and longer and stronger by far than any known upland or Acala fibers. A growing demand for this fiber only begins to tell the story.

According to Hazera Genetics, one also must consider the environmental friendliness of Hybrid Cotton Hazera when discussing its advantages. It can be used in marginal and salty soils. It saves on pesticide use thanks to its early maturity, and saves on fresh water use by its high WUE.

According to Hazera Genetics, one also must consider the environmental friendliness of Hybrid Cotton Hazera when discussing its advantages. It can be used in marginal and salty soils. It saves on pesticide use thanks to its early maturity, and saves on fresh water use by its high WUE.

Yet, Hybrid Cotton Hazera is not a foolproof product. It is more sensitive to mismanagement, and it takes longer to become familiar with it than other varieties; but once studied, it may be a valuable asset for the grower and for the industry.

March/April 2006