Hardest-hit Texas High Plains lost 22 percent of production

The boll weevil isn't going down without a fight. Although the insect now infests only 44 percent of U.S. cotton acres — thanks to boll weevil eradication programs — it still reduced yields by 2.86 percent in 2000, the most of any one pest, according to the recently released report, Cotton Insect Losses 2000, compiled by Mississippi Extension entomologist Michael Williams.

While the weevil won the battle of 2000, the boll weevil eradication program is winning the war. Just four years ago, in 1997, the pest infested 58 percent of U.S. cotton acreage and reduced yields by 4.02 percent. In addition, the pest is no longer a major factor east of the Mississippi River, according to the report.

In all, insects reduced overall yield by 9.26 percent in 2000. Again Texas overshadowed losses elsewhere, losing 16.2 percent of its crop to insects, including 7.3 percent to boll weevils and 6.2 percent to beet armyworms. The Texas High Plains lost a whopping 22.09 percent of its crop to insects in 2000, including 11 percent to boll weevils and 9.5 percent to beet armyworms.

The beet armyworm came in second in U.S. losses to insects at 2.11 percent. The bollworm/budworm complex was the No. 3 pest of cotton at 1.43 percent. According to the report, 81 percent of U.S. cotton acres were infested by worm pests in 2000 and 79 percent of those were bollworms.

Thrips were the fourth-most damaging pest, at 0.59 percent, followed by: lygus, 0.56 percent; stinkbugs, 0.52 percent; aphids, 0.44 percent; spider mites, 0.22 percent; cotton fleahopper, 0.15 percent; and Western flower thrips, 0.14 percent.

Total cost of management and loss to insects for the 2000 crop was $1.67 billion — $117.32 per acre. Of those costs, approximately $62 are direct insect management costs.

By state, Arkansas growers had the highest loss in terms of loss plus cost per acre, at $158.46, followed by: Tennessee, $152.61; Arizona, $142.87; Texas $131.73; and California, $122.53. Mississippi growers weren't far behind, at $118.25 per acre.

Kansas, at $10.38, had the lowest loss plus cost per acre, followed by Virginia, $63.63, Georgia, $71.53, Oklahoma, $72.33, and Alabama, $74.78.

U.S. growers planted Bt cotton on 5.2 million acres in 2000 at an average cost of $25.41 per acre, spending a total of $133 million. Twenty-eight percent of the Bt acres were sprayed an average of 0.33 time for bollworms. If Kansas, California, North Carolina and Texas are excluded, the number of sprays directed at bollworms increases to a little over one spray per acre.

Here's a wrap-up by state:

Alabama: The No. 1 pest was aphids, reducing yield by 1.2 percent. Total loss to insects was $44 million. The boll weevil infested only 1,600 acres.

Arizona: The No. 1 pest was lygus, a 3.1 percent loss, followed by pink bollworm, at 1.14 percent. Total loss to insects was $39 million. The boll weevil did not infest any cotton acres in 2000.

Arkansas: The budworm/bollworm complex was the No. 1 pest, at 3.2 percent loss, followed by boll weevils, at 2 percent loss and early-season thrips at 1.9 percent loss. Total loss to insects was $158 million. Boll weevils infested 975 million acres in 2000, costing $18.73 per acre to control.

California (San Joaquin Valley): The No. 1 pest was lygus, at 2.2 percent loss, followed by spider mites, at 1.48 percent. Total loss to insects was $107 million.

Georgia: The No. 1 pest was the bollworm/budworm complex, at 1.5 percent loss, followed by stinkbugs, at 1.4 percent. Total loss to insects was $92 million. Boll weevils were not a significant factor on any acres in the state.

Kansas: The No. 1 pest was early-season thrips, which reduced yields 1.2 percent on the state's 40,000 cotton acres. Total loss to insects was $415,000.

Louisiana: The No. 1 pest was budworm/bollworm complex, at a 1 percent loss. Total loss to insects was $68 million. The boll weevil infested 547,000 of the state's 704,000 acres.

Mississippi: The budworm/bollworm complex was the No. 1 pest, at a 2.2 percent loss, followed by early-season thrips, a 0.62 percent loss. The total loss was $152 million. According to the summary, the boll weevil was not a factor in losses in 2000.

Missouri: The No. 1 pest was the boll weevil, which reduced yields by 3.7 percent, followed by bollworm/budworm, 1.5 percent and early-season thrips, 1.2 percent. Total loss to insects was $41 million. The boll weevil infested 311,200 acres in 2000 and 32,000 bales were lost due to the pest.

New Mexico: The No. 1 pest was the bollworm/budworm complex, at 2.4 percent loss, followed by boll weevil, 1.7 percent and lygus, 1.5 percent. Total loss to insects was $7 million. The boll weevil infested 42,000 of the state's 72,000 cotton acres.

North Carolina: The bollworm/budworm complex was the No. 1 pest, at 3.2 percent loss, followed by stinkbugs, 2.7 percent and early-season thrips, 1.2 percent. Total loss to insects was $98 million. The boll weevil was not a factor in insect losses in 2000.

Oklahoma: The bollworm/budworm complex was the No. 1 pest with a 3 percent loss, followed by aphids, at 2 percent. Total loss to insects was $15 million. Boll weevils were no a factor on the state's 216,000 acres of cotton.

South Carolina: The No. 1 pest was the bollworm/budworm complex at 4 percent, followed by stinkbugs, at 3 percent. Total loss to insects was $31 million. The boll weevil was not a major factor on South Carolina's 300,000 cotton acres.

Tennessee: The boll weevil reigns as the No. 1 pest, reducing yield by 3 percent, followed by bollworm/budworm, 1.5 percent, stinkbugs, 1.4 percent and early-season thrips, 1.1 percent. Total loss to insects was $90 million. The boll weevil infested 575,000 of the state's 594,000 acres of cotton.

Texas: The boll weevil reduced Texas yields by 7.3 percent, followed by beet armyworm, at 6.1 percent. Total loss to insects was $722 million. The boll weevil infested 3.7 million of the state's 5.5 million acres of cotton.

Virginia: The No. 1 pest of cotton was early-season thrips, 1.1 percent. Total loss to insects was $6.8 million on the state's 107,000 acres of cotton.


e-mail: elton_robinson@intertec.com