The success of the Boll Weevil Eradication Program has been a driving force in bringing cotton back to the Carolinas in a big way. With virtually no boll weevils (none in South Carolina) in the past five years, the program has proven effective and is getting more cost efficient for North Carolina growers in 2006.

North Carolina’s boll weevil assessment for 2006 will be set at $3.25, a decrease over last year’s fee. In South Carolina, the fee was dropped to $3 — a dollar less than in 2005. These fees support intensive trapping and monitoring programs in the Carolinas to detect any re-introductions of the boll weevil.

One weevil was trapped last year in North Carolina and determined to be a male, and most likely was brought into the state on a truck traveling on Interstate 95. No weevils were caught in 2004 in North Carolina. No weevils have been caught in South Carolina since September 2000.

North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, Steve Troxler points out that North Carolina is now the sixth largest cotton producing state in the country. “We have seen a dramatic rise in cotton production in the state since the boll weevil was eradicated,” Troxler adds.

“Cotton is a significant crop for farmers, and we have to continue to protect this commodity. One way we do this is to respond quickly in the event weevils are detected in the state, and the trapping and monitoring program offers the best insurance against the spread of this damaging pest,” the Commissioner stresses.

The Plant Industry Division, in cooperation with the Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation of North Carolina, implements the program in the state. Private contractors install and maintain the traps, with trapping beginning in late summer and ending after harvest and frost.

A total of 130,945 traps were placed and maintained on 67,315 cotton fields in 53 counties last year. To allow for trapping and monitoring, cotton growers are required to certify cotton acreage information with their local Farm Service Agency office by July 1.

In neighboring South Carolina, cotton acreage is expected to increase slightly in 2006, and the number of traps monitored will increase to nearly 19,000 for the upcoming crop year, according to South Carolina Boll Weevil Eradication Director, Randy Lynch.

e-mail: rroberson@farmpress.com