COTTON producers in eastern New Mexico are one step closer to eradicating a boll weevil problem. More than 80 percent of the cotton growers in Roosevelt and Curry counties voted to establish a boll weevil control district.

Boll weevils are insects that feed on the pollen of cotton plants causing decreased yield and quality. They were first discovered in New Mexico in 1992.

Cotton grower Kevin Breshears, one of the people spearheading the control effort, said there are 135 cotton farms in Roosevelt and Curry counties. Last year the two counties produced a total of 44,000 acres of cotton. This year, the number is down to about 25,500, Breshears said. His yields have decreased about 10 percent over the past few years because of the boll weevil, Breshears said.

Eastern New Mexico producers want to ensure their cotton is not quarantined from Texas, the home of the closest cotton gin. Cotton producers must now elect officers for the district. They will be responsible for determining control methods for the boll weevil.

Eight states including Arizona have already eradicated the boll weevil, according to an entomologist with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. New Mexico and Texas are among seven states with eradication programs in place.