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Like Father, Like Son: Cotton Researchers
By Rebekah Ray
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- U.S. Highway 82, the internet and telephone wires connect a Mississippi State University father-and-son research team who work on opposite sides of Mississippi.
Both Dr. Roy Creech and his son, Dr. John Creech, are looking for ways to improve Mississippi's leading row crop, cotton. One has a lab at MSU in Starkville and the other conducts research at the Delta Research and Extension Center in Stoneville.
"Becoming an agronomist was John's decision, and even though he could have been successful in other disciplines, I'm pleased he enjoys working with cotton," said the elder Creech, who researches cotton host plant resistance at MSU. Roy has taught agronomy and conducted research for 39 years in a career that included 12 years at Penn State University and 27 years at MSU.
"I went into genetics and plant breeding because of an interest in developing new genetic techniques and using those techniques in plant improvement," Roy said.
As did his father, John studied genetics and plant breeding, and added to it molecular biology.
At DREC, John is responsible for the Mississippi Cotton Variety Trials, which provide the state's producers with needed data to make necessary variety choices. As the Delta's cotton breeder, he researches traits neglected by commercial breeders, notably insect resistance, adaptation to shorter seasons and narrow-row crop productions.
Additionally, John works with his father in developing root-knot nematode resistant cotton lines that perform well in the Midsouth and is also evaluating lines developed by former MSU cotton breeders Bob Bridge and Steve Calhoun.
Becoming an agronomist came naturally to John. As a child, John loved agriculture and wanted to become a farmer like his grandfather who had owned a small family farm.
"As a high school kid, I worked summers at MSU's North Farm. Through my father, I was exposed to different aspects of agronomy. Some of the earliest memories I have are of going to the fields with him to do plant crosses in corn," John said.
After receiving his master's in 1985, John spent several years in the military.
"I still love the work and the personal satisfaction found in agriculture and in working with Mississippi producers," John said.