Background: Producing rainfed cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) with high fiber quality has been challenging in the Texas High Plains because of extended periods of insufficient rainfall during sensitive boll developmental stages. Genetic variation created by Ethyl MethaneSulfonate (EMS) mutagen has successfully improved fiber quality of cotton. However, little is known about the effect of water deficit environments on fiber quality. Three EMS treated populations were advanced from the first to the fourth generation (M1 to M4) as bulk harvested populations. In 2014, single-plant divergent selection was applied based on perceived morphological and agronomic differences seen during and at the end of the season. Results: Analyses from these selections in 2014–2016 showed significant (P < 0.05) improvement between and within populations for fiber traits (micronaire, length, strength, uniformity, and elongation) when compared with the original non-treated EMS source; some selections were found to have excellent fiber quality under diverse irrigation-regimes. Conclusions: Some of these selections are being considered for germplasm release and could be useful for improving the fiber quality of cotton under water limited conditions, thereby helping to ensure the long-term survival of the cotton industry on the Texas High Plains.
- Ethyl MethaneSulfonate
- Fiber quality