Dr. Freddie Marshall Bourland

Cotton breeder and Director
University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture’s Northeast Research and Extension Center

Dr. Freddie Marshall Bourland — ICAC Cotton Researcher of the Year 2010

Dr. Freddie Marshall Bourland — ICAC Cotton Researcher of the Year 2010  

Freddie Marshall Bourland

University of Arkansas — Northeast Research and Extension Center
P.O. Box 48,
AR 72351

Position: Professor and Center Director

Field of Research: Cotton Breeding/Genetics


University of Arkansas - Arkansas Cotton Achievement Award, 1999
University of Arkansas - John W. White Team Research Award, 1999
National Cotton Council - Joint Cotton Breeding Committee Genetics Award, 2001

Publications: Complete list of Dr Bourland's publications (156K PDF)

Innovative Achievements:

1. Release of cotton germplasm lines and cotton varieties.
Bourland has been primarily responsible for the development and release of 54 cotton germplasm lines (34 lines since 2004) and one cultivar. These releases are chronicled in 34 registration articles in Crop Science Journal and the Journal of Plant Registrations. The breeding program has focused on combining various host plant resistance traits, enhanced combinations of yield component traits, and improved fiber quality into early-maturing, widely adapted, high yielding genotypes. The germplasm lines have been widely distributed and used by private and public cotton breeders throughout the world. In 2008, Cotton Incorporated initiated a program to increase seed of outstanding (on basis of yield performance and high fiber quality) advanced conventional lines from public cotton breeders. Eight of 14 lines chosen for this program over the past two years were developed by Bourland. One of these eight lines is currently being released as a conventional variety. In replicated tests over the three years (four sites per year), this new variety has yielded 5% more than DP 393, and produced fiber length of 1.29 in.(32.8 mm), length uniformity of 87.1%, and strength of 35.3 g/tex (346 kNm kg-1). In the same tests, DP 393 had fiber length of 1.18 in. (30.0 mm), length uniformity of 84.8%, and strength of 31.7 g/tex (311 kNm kg-1). This combination of high yielding ability and exceptional fiber quality in a short-season variety is unparalleled, and will surely have a great impact on the cotton industry.

2. Development of the COTMAN cotton management system.
COTMAN is a management system developed by a multiple disciplinary research team of which Bourland was one of four principal developers. Initially, his role was primarily the development of critical plant measurements and determining how cultivars differed with regard to these parameters. Since then, he has been integrally involved with training individuals to use COTMAN and with developing training materials. The COTMAN system is based upon monitoring and responding to plant growth and development. Resulting growth curves provide diagnostic insight on crop development through the season and identify pivotal stages of development. Combined with heat unit requirements and long-term weather patterns, COTMAN provides assistance with critical end-of-season management decisions. Within COTMAN, the “nodes-above-white-flower” measurement is used to monitor maturation of the crop and to identify the flowering date of the last cohort of flowers that contribute significantly to yield. With this date identified, end-of-season management is based on the maturity of these last bolls. The “nodes-above-white-flower” concept is now widely used in making end-of-season decisions. Prior to boll weevil eradication and introduction of Bt cotton, use of COTMAN decision rules was shown to increase net returns by $46 to $53 per acre. Since then, net returns associated with COTMAN decision rules still exceed $20 per acre.

3. Development of cotton breeding techniques.
Bourland has been primarily responsible for developing several field and laboratory techniques that may be used to select and characterize cotton germplasm. Techniques that he has developed include: 1) Hot water technique to evaluate seed quality and resistance to seed deterioration, 2) Characterization of seedling vigor based on lateral root development, rapid true leaf formation, and resistance to seedling disease, 4) COTMAP, a modified whole plant mapping program used to characterize structure and fruiting parameters of cotton plants, 4) A rating system for characterizing leaf and stem pubescence of cotton genotypes, 5) A method for sampling and characterizing marginal bract trichomes of cotton genotypes, 6) COTVAR, an on-line program for summarizing data from cotton variety tests in all states, 7) Q-score a quantitative measure of cotton fiber quality that incorporates four weighed HVI measurements into one index, and 8) now working on maximizing the utility of basic yield components of lint per seed, fibers per seed, and fiber density. Additionally, he has assisted with the development of the “dirty-flower” technique for evaluating resistance to tarnished plant bug, and is currently working on improved techniques for evaluating resistance and/or tolerance to root-knot nematode, Verticillium wilt, and heat stress. Combined use of these techniques has been critical to the germplasm improvement made in his cotton breeding program.


Fred Bourland was reared on a family cotton farm in northeast Arkansas where he was involved with all aspects of growing cotton. In his youth, he personally experienced planting fuzzy seed, blocking out emerged plants to desired plant densities, hand-weeding, and hand-picking. He later experienced the transition to more modern seeding methods, herbicides, and mechanical picking. He earned both his B.S. in agriculture (1970) and M.S. in plant breeding (M.S.) from the University of Arkansas. Under the direction of Dr. B.A. Waddle, his M.S. thesis project involved the characterization of cotton plant types for genetic studies. He then earned his Ph.D. in genetics under the direction of Dr. L.S. Bird from Texas A&M University in 1978. For his Ph.D. dissertation research, he studied the inheritance and interrelationships of several seed and seedling traits in cotton. In 1978, he became an Assistant Professor of agronomy at Mississippi State University, where he headed a cotton breeding program and had teaching responsibilities. During his tenure at Mississippi State, he was promoted to Associate Professor in 1983 and to Professor in 1987. He was hired as Professor of agronomy at University of Arkansas in 1988, and continued his cotton breeding research and teaching. In 1997, he transferred his breeding program from the main campus to the Northeast Research and Extension Center where he also serves as Center Director. He has been married to his wife, Kathy, for 40 years and they have one son, Samuel.