Chappell also follows the latest reports each week about the boll weevil eradication program in the Valley.

“It’s a useful tool that provides information about insects, crop progress and just about whatever you want to know about cotton and grain conditions in the Valley. My father subscribed to the newsletter years ago, and I do as well,” he added.

While Norman collects the raw data for each issue and puts in a form ready for publication, the Extension Center in Weslaco provides the printing services and sees that each subscriber receives the latest edition, a few of those still mailed through the U.S. Postal Service. While there are fewer farms and farmers in the Valley today, the number of subscribers continues to grow.

“We’re going to see cotton acres down in the Valley this year compared to last, and overall cotton and grain farming has been diminishing in the Valley over the last 30 years,” Norman said.

Thirty years ago the Valley produced between 300,000 to 400,000 acres of cotton. Last year about 200,000 acres were planted and this year that number dropped to about 130,000 acres.

“The truth is we are seeing a lot of farmers growing grain sorghum this year because of historically high prices. Cotton is down from last year and many farmers are betting on a better grain crop and one that has smaller input costs following a drought-stricken year,” Norman said.

But farming remains a tradition in the Valley. While acreage has been reduced as towns and cities gobble up more land, Norman foresees a future for both cotton and grain here and he admits that means a strong demand for Pest Cast.

To subscribe to Pest Cast, get on the list by calling the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at 956-968-5581, or by email at Both the online and the mailed subscriptions are free.