Weevil numbers jump in SRP eradication zone

Boll weevil presence in the Southern Rolling Plains eradication zone jumped from absent to 1,081 present and accounted for from late August through September.

“We were weevil free until late August,” says Randal Schwartz, with the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation.

Schwartz, addressing participants at a recent cotton field day in Tom Green County, said the foundation had sprayed 145,000 acres to control the late-arriving pests. The zone has more than 200,000 acres of cotton.

Schwartz said officials believe many of the weevils came into the zone with a September tropical storm.

“We had seen no weevils and then we caught them as they moved out of South Texas,” he said. “We began treatment in the south edge of the zone and as the weeks progressed weevils moved further into the zone. We know they are moving.”

Harvest time presents a challenge as both farmers and the foundation need aerial applicators. Farmers are trying to apply harvest aids and eradication officials are trying to prevent weevils from reproducing in the area. “We're most concerned when the crop is ready to harvest,” Schwartz said. He also said the foundation would work with farmers to accomplish both tasks.

“When the crop is ready it makes sense to harvest and then get the stalks out of the fields as quickly as possible. Volunteer cotton has become a problem and we have to get that out, too. We are treating some volunteer cotton.”

Schwartz said eradication officials “have seen in-migration before. But this is the most we've seen in the last five or six years. But South Texas cotton was late coming out of the field (Wet weather delayed harvest by several weeks.) and stalk destruction was also delayed. We have to be prepared to spray fields when we see weevils.”

He said controlling the migrating weevils this fall will mean fewer sprays necessary next spring. “We're seeing increased trap counts in areas where we've been catching weevils and we're spraying as fast as we can to get the job done.'

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