Boll Weevil assessment supports work of the Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation

by | Feb 25, 2022

The 2022 boll weevil assessment remains at the 2021 rate of 75 cents per acre of cotton. The assessment supports the work of the Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation, which traps and monitors cotton fields in the state and the Southeast for the highly destructive boll weevil. North Carolina has been weevil-free since 1987. 

Today’s Topic with Southern Farm Network’s Mike Davis
  • We talked a few weeks ago about the higher yields we saw in 2021 for many of our crops including cotton. As I recall, cotton acreage was up by 35,000 acres and the yield averaged 999 pounds per acre. Altogether, production was 760,000 bales. 
  • A lot goes into making a good crop, including managing pests. Those production numbers would not have been possible had we not been successful many years ago in eradicating the boll weevil. 
  • North Carolina was officially declared weevil-free in 1987 after being one of the first states to participate in an eradication pilot program in 1978. North Carolina has been an industry leader in these efforts since the beginning. 
  • Growers support ongoing trapping and monitoring efforts through a voluntary assessment. This year the rate will remain at 75 cents per acre of cotton. This program keeps an eye out for boll weevils in the state and moves quickly to eradicate these destructive pests if any are found.  
  • As part of the program, cotton growers are required to certify cotton acreage with their local U.S. Farm Service Agency office by July 15.  
  •  I look at assessments as a business investment, and as such I want to see a return on it.  
  • Ridding cotton-producing states of the boll weevil and ensuring the pest doesn’t re-establish a foothold there is the reason we have the cotton production numbers we do today.  
  • The program is credited with helping cotton farmers reduce their use of pesticides by 40 percent or more and increase their yields by at least 10 percent, since it started. 
  • I’d say that is a pretty good return on investment. 
  • As part of the program, green-colored traps will go out in cotton fields and will be monitored by contractors from late summer until after harvest. 
  • If any weevils are trapped, they will be dealt with immediately to avoid the weevils becoming established or spread more widely. The idea is to keep spot introductions to a spot! Or as small of a footprint as possible.  
  • Each trap is important, so farmers should contact the foundation if traps are damaged or knocked down. They can’t do their job if they are not there or are broken. 
  • Last year, there were more than 6,650 traps placed and maintained, with each trap monitoring on average 54 acres. Total certified acres was 363,609 in 2021, up 8 percent from the previous year.  
  • Our top three cotton-producing counties were Halifax, Martin and Northampton.