The lack of soil moisture has presented many challenges for farmers, and now some producers are dealing with more than 20,000 acres of late-germinating cotton seeds that will soon grow cotton plants in fields where other crops have been planted. These plants, which are grown in fields not normally scheduled for treatment by the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation (TBWEF), pose a threat to boll weevil eradication efforts since the plants act as hosts for the pests.

In an effort to protect Texas’ $2.1 billion cotton industry, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is requesting that all non-commercial cotton be destroyed immediately in order to reduce the risk of boll weevil infestation and spread.

“Texas leads the nation in cotton production, and we want to keep it that way,” Commissioner Staples said. “Our state has invested millions in successful boll weevil eradication efforts, but we must eliminate non-commercial cotton as it can become a major breeding ground for this harmful pest.”

Texas law prohibits the growth of non-commercial cotton in any boll weevil eradication zone except under a special permit issued by the Texas Department of Agriculture. Permits are only given for cotton grown for research, demonstrations or education. Commercial cotton fields, however, are monitored and treated when necessary.

Producers can destroy non-commercial cotton through cultivation or with herbicides. For more information, contact Robert Crocker, TDA coordinator for pest management programs, at (512) 463-6332.