AUSTIN, Texas –Boll weevil eradication will be returning to the Lower Rio Grande Valley next year after producers and landowners voted to approve a new program.

A total of 467 producers and landowners voted for the proposition to create a new boll weevil eradication zone and 166 voted against in an early November referendum. The 74-percent approval was more than the 66-2/3rds percent required for passed.

A proposal confirming the financing of the assessment for the program received 71 percent of the vote. Farmers also elected Sam Simmons of Harlingen to the board of the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation.

The proposed eradication program will be conducted on 250,000 acres, including Brooks, Cameron, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Kennedy, Maverick, Starr, Webb, Willacy and Zapata counties.

LRGV farmers began a boll weevil eradication effort in 1995, but an outbreak of beet armyworms triggered by early season sprays for the program caused severe yield losses. Farmers voted to discontinue the program after one year.

Producers in the neighboring state of Tamaulipas in Mexico have begun an eradication program in the 9,000-acre area just across the border. Growers had also expressed concern about possible re-infestations of boll weevils from Mexico when they stopped the program in 1985.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com