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Boll weevil eradication cost slashed

STARKVILLE — Cotton production costs continue to climb in most categories with one exception – boll weevil control.

When the boll weevil eradication program first entered Mississippi’s eastern counties in 1997, cotton growers were assessed $20 per acre. As the program progressed westward, first-year assessments ranged from $20 to $24 per acre. Initially, weevils were also in the fields robbing growers of yields.

This year, the board of directors for the Mississippi Boll Weevil Eradication Corporation voted to assess cotton growers $2 per acre.

“This is the result of dedicated farmers who have supported this program and the hard work of eradication program personnel and field workers over the last 13 years,” said Jeannine Smith, executive director of the corporation.

Smith said no weevils were trapped in the state in 2009. In 2008, only three were trapped, and they were considered anomalies. Captured weevils do not trigger spraying efforts unless it is determined a reinfestation exists.

“All the states east of us are eradicated. Our biggest threat comes from Louisiana, and their numbers have been going down substantially each year,” she said.

Smith said growers may get an additional bonus this fall if they are not required to destroy cotton stalks at the end of the season.

“There is no longer a scientific reason to destroy the stalks, so we are requesting that the Bureau of Plant Industry change the eradication rule to end that requirement,” Smith said. “However, the bureau would retain the authority to impose stalk destruction in designated areas if necessary.”

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