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Cotton species

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio

Hello, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. There are 50 species of cotton in the genus Gossypium — basically they’re seeds with fibers attached. Only a few are commercially important. Geneticists have determined that the first cotton plant originated in Africa. Somehow seeds got dispersed across the oceans, two went to the Americas and one of those went back to African and came back again – with double chromosome counts. Those tetraploids are the source of upland cotton and pima cotton. Pima cotton has extra long and silky fibers but isn’t very productive and has special environmental requirements – historically it was grown on the sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia. Upland cotton is a great producer and adaptable. Ninety percent of cotton grown today is upland cotton and in our state we grow 500,000 bales a year.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.