The board of the Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation of North Carolina has reduced the boll weevil assessment fee for 2008 to $1.25 per acre.

The board originally set the 2008 assessment at $2.10 per acre, but decided to reduce it in response to program changes that lowered projected expenditures.

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

The boll weevil was eradicated in North Carolina in 1986. “The boll weevil is gone and we don’t want it back,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “This program is very important for protecting against the re-introduction of this pest.”

The foundation and the NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division implement and oversee the monitoring program, which typically is active 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 or NCDA&CS 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.

To learn more about the boll weevil monitoring program, go online to www.ncagr.com/plantindustry/plant/entomology/BW.htm.