Cotton growers in Texas have always had to worry about adverse weather conditions, increased production expenses, and until recently, the damaging effects of the boll weevil.
Growers in eradication zones entering their third season as part of the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication program say they are receiving help with their worries. Although the program has no control over the weather, it does help with production costs, and producers in these zones are noticing a decrease in weevil numbers and the damage these insects cause.
Jerry McClain of Childress is seeing the results of eradication on his farms in Childress, Hardeman and Cottle counties, part of the Northern Rolling Plains eradication zone.
“The last three crops before eradication began, the weevils ate us up,” McClain said. “It wasn't worth pulling.”
But during the diapause year of the program, McClain was able to make a top crop.
“The weevils usually get all of that,” he said. “The last two years there hasn't been a weevil problem. But there has been a weather problem.”
McClain is enthusiastic about the results of the program. “We had to have something, or I wouldn't be able to raise cotton anymore,” he said.
Tommy Box, a producer in western Yoakum County, noted the cost-saving aspect of eradication in the Western High Plains zone. “I am definitely saving money,” he said. “It would cost me more if I were treating it myself.”
Before the program, Box said, he was paying at least twice as much per acre as he pays now. McClain agreed. “The benefits outweigh the cost,” he said. “You only need 20 extra pounds of production to pay the cost.”
Theodore Wells of Martin County said he believes growers in the Permian Basin zone will see the benefits when the weather cooperates. “The program has decreased the boll weevil damage and will work in this area when it starts raining,” Wells said.
Program employees know that growers fund the program, and Wells said he believes they work hard to spend the money wisely. These producers offer encouragement to those who are not part of the program or have misgivings.
“Some people may think they don't have a weevil problem, but they do. And it will get worse,” McClain said.
And Wells said he has noticed that some producers in his area who were once against the program have had a change of heart and now work for their local offices.
“Knowing what has been accomplished by the program and seeing results in other areas eased any apprehension I had,” Box said. “I believe this is the best program available,” he said. “It is getting control of our boll weevils.
“Because of so many variables, such as weather conditions and various expenses, it is a relief not to have to worry about the boll weevil. We can let the program take care of them.”