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Plant and Soil Sciences Student Spotlight: Bradley Wilson

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

STILLWATER, Okla. – Bradley Wilson is a Ph.D. student in the department of plant and soil sciences at Oklahoma State University. He is set to graduate December of 2021.


Bradley came to OSU to work with Dr. Seth Byrd to deepen his knowledge in cotton production. Byrd spoke with a colleague at Mississippi State University and mentioned he needed a Ph.D. student to work on an exciting new cotton research project. The friend immediately mentioned Wilson.


“While I was working on my master’s at Mississippi State University my advisor mentioned an opportunity to pursue my Ph.D. under Dr. Byrd at OSU,” Wilson said. “With Dr. Byrd’s background in cotton research, I knew it would be a perfect fit.”


“It has been a pleasure to work with Bradley,” Byrd said. “He is a humble, hard working young man who doesn’t mind getting dirty.”


Wilson’s research in cotton production is extensive; however, he did not grow up around the cotton industry. His only connection to cotton came from his father’s work with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and a family member in Mississippi.


Bradley became interested in plant and soil sciences at North Carolina State University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in plant and soil sciences with a crop production emphasis in 2016.


“I stayed close to home for my bachelor’s degree,” Wilson said and then decided to move west to Mississippi State University where he earned a Master of Science in Agronomy with a minor plant pathology emphasis. His thesis at MSU was the evaluation of nematode control practices on cotton growth and yield in nematode infested soils, and evaluation of bacterial blight inoculation timing on cotton yield.


At OSU, Wilson’s Ph.D. research project focuses on improving cotton fiber quality.


“As a Ph.D. student my responsibilities include leading the field data collection and analysis of a collaborative project with Texas A&M AgriLife Research,” Wilson said. “The research is funded by the USDA Organic Agriculture Research and Extension initiative.”


The goal of the project is to determine if okra leaf cotton varieties can be used as a pre-bloom visual marker for purity in organic cotton production.


“My primary involvement in the project is identifying leaf pubescence characteristics of okra and normal leaf cotton lines,” Wilson said. “I compare the density of leaf and bract hairs, or trichomes, between various varieties within and across the two leaf shapes.”


The goal of this project is to identify okra leaf lines that are suitable candidates to serve as organic varieties that promote high quality fiber production though reduced leaf and trash content because of minimal leaf and bract pubescence.


Wilson is also working on another project.


“I am also involved with a multi-state collaborative project,” Wilson said. “This project is funded by the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation and is evaluating the utility and impact of foliar fertilization of cotton. The research team includes groups at both Oklahoma State University and Texas A&M.”


Other projects Wilson supervises or participates in include evaluation of cover crop species and termination timing for dryland cotton production, on-farm variety trials conducted across Oklahoma, and harvest aid management projects that evaluate both products and application timing to optimize harvest preparation activities and fiber quality.


Editor: Molly Faught, Oklahoma State University Agricultural Communications Writing Center


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