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LOGO: Journal of Cotton Science


Jacob Osborne Ware, an Early Cotton Breeding Giant

Authors: Freddie M. Bourland
Pages: 239-245
Breeding and Genetics
DOI: (

Jacob Osborne (J.O.) Ware (1888-1977) was an early leader in United States (US) cotton breeding and contributed significantly to the U.S. and Arkansas cotton industries. Dr. Ware bred cotton at the University of Arkansas (UA) from 1920 until 1934, when he became the senior United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) cotton agronomist at Beltsville, MD. He returned to UA in 1950 with a joint UA and USDA appointment. During his tenure, cotton occupied up to 10% of the land area of Arkansas, but state yield never exceeded 545 lb a-1. Essentially all Arkansas cotton production was rain fed with little fertilizer added and with limited insect and disease control options available. Cotton production relied heavily on hand labor, management knowledge was limited, travel was difficult, communication was restricted, and no computers existed. In this environment, Dr. Ware made significant advances in variety development, variety testing, trait evaluation (inheritance and relationship studies), writing extensive cotton breeding reviews, and became an early leader of U.S. cotton breeding. Compared to today’s program, Dr. Ware encountered similarities (geography, the cotton plant, pests, breeding objectives and procedures); disadvantages (low understandings of genetics, production practices, fiber testing, and test procedures; near absence of specialized equipment and methods to document plant releases; poor transportation; and no computer technology); and advantages (less complex traits, more state support, fewer labor and government restrictions; better public relations and less administrative demands). Dr. Ware was not the first cotton breeder at UA but was the first to establish a legacy that remains today.