North Carolina's boll weevil assessment for 2008 has been set at $2.10 per acre, 40 cents less than last year's fee.

The fee supports the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' joint program with the Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation of North Carolina to monitor cotton acreage for any re-introduction of the boll weevil and to respond promptly with eradication treatments if necessary.

“Even though cotton acreage in the state was lower last year, cotton continues to be a significant crop for our farmers,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “We need to continue to protect our state's cotton from potential re-introductions of the boll weevil.”

The boll weevil was eradicated in North Carolina in 1986.

The foundation, in cooperation with the NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division, implements the program. With foundation oversight, contractors install and monitor traps from late summer until after harvest and frost.

For the 2008 growing season, the foundation is proposing a new grid trapping system that will install one trap per 160 acres of cotton planted. It will employ the latest technology in digital map imaging, data recording and quality control using a high-tech barcode scanning system.

Because the focus of North Carolina's program has shifted from eradication to monitoring for re-infestation, the number of traps visible in the field will decrease. As such, each trap placed in the field will be critical and producers are encouraged to contact the foundation if traps are knocked down. In streamlining the program, grower costs will be minimized while maintaining a high level of quality in trapping and monitoring, said Gene Cross, director of the NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division.

A total of 21,837 traps were placed and maintained on 18,316 cotton fields in 55 counties in 2007. 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. The top three cotton-producing counties in the state were Halifax, Northampton and Martin. North Carolina ranks sixth in the nation in cotton production and acreage.