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Boll weevil eradication in sight

June 10, 2010

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said the Boll Weevil Eradication Commission expects that Louisiana will be boll weevil free by the end of 2010.
“We’ve made tremendous progress with the boll weevil program in the last two years,” Strain said. “The success of the program is due to the hard work of the employees in the Boll Weevil Eradication Program, as well as continued support for the program from the cotton producers, Boll Weevil Eradication Commission members, Technical Advisory Committee members and the state legislators from the cotton-producing areas of the state.
“The Boll Weevil Eradication Program enjoyed the unwavering support of both the Senate and House committees on agriculture, forestry, aquaculture, and rural development, chaired by Senator Francis Thompson and Representative Andy Anders. The support of the legislature for continued funding has enabled us to get to the point where we are today.”
In 2009, the program monitored and surveyed all 229,869 acres of cotton produced in the state. This acreage comprises all areas of Louisiana cotton production. The cotton growing parishes along the Red River (formerly known as the Red River Zone) remain free of boll weevils and continue to be monitored with in-field traps. Based on survey data and program protocol for crop year 2009, a cumulative total of 99,865 acres was treated for boll weevils in the northeast region of the state resulting in a 98 percent reduction in boll weevil population from the previous crop year.
“In 2008, the program trapped more than 14,700 boll weevils,” Strain said. “In 2009, that number was reduced to 302.”
Program officials note that 98 percent of the cotton fields in northeast Louisiana are “functionally eradicated,” meaning in those fields, less than one weevil per 1,000 acres was trapped with no evidence of reproduction.
In 2008, cotton was worth more than $134 million to the state but that figure declined in 2009 due to extremely wet weather during the harvest. The 2009 numbers came to more than 225,000 acres harvested with the total value of the cotton sector estimated to be $130.2 million. Since 1997, approximately $167 million dollars has been spent on boll weevil eradication ($77.6 million by the state, $25 million by USDA, $64.3 million by the cotton growers) in a unified eradication program.
Strain said the boll weevil eradication program has been extremely beneficial to producers.
“Since 1997, Louisiana’s cotton production increased from 605 pounds per acre to an average of 1,137 pounds,” Strain said. “That’s an 87 percent increase in production.”