Texas cotton farmers in some of the active boll weevil eradication zones can save a bit on assessment fees by paying early and destroying old crop stalks before Texas Department of agriculture deadlines.

TDA has established the 2003 assessment rates, due dates and discount dates for all active zones in the boll weevil eradication program. Rates and due dates vary from zone to zone, depending on such factors as usual planting and harvest date and the phase of the eradication program.

Cotton farmers in the Southern Black-lands zone will pay $12 per dryland acre and $27 per irrigated land acre.

Assessment notices will be mailed by Aug. 12, and payment is due Sept. 16. Growers who pay by Sept. 1 are eligible to receive a 2 percent discount on their assessment.

One change was made to this year's assessment structure in both the Southern Blacklands and the South Texas/Winter Garden zones. All acres planted to cotton will be assessed.

In past years growers received a credit for failed acres, which produced no revenue despite expenses incurred. Foundation employees trap and treat cotton until it is failed and destroyed, creating substantial expense.

The board's recommendation was based on input received from the zones' grower steering committees, which are composed of cotton producers who represent each county and gin point in the zone. The committees approved the recommendations following review of the financial reports and cash flow analyses.

Steering committees in most zones also recommended offering stalk destruction credits for producers who destroy cotton before the TDA deadline.

Growers must meet certain conditions to receive this credit towards the 2004 assessment. All cotton plants must be destroyed and fields must remain free of hostable plants through Dec. 31. Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation (TBWEF) employees will monitor fields and certify they remained free of cotton.

Growers must also provide season-long access to all fields and not be delinquent on any TBWEF assessments.

Stalk destruction is an important cultural control practice in the eradication process. Growers who take advantage of early stalk destruction help guarantee success of the program. Climate in some zones necessitates stalk destruction after harvest to ensure no hostable material remains in the field.

Full-field vehicular access and stalk destruction work together to save producers money and to speed up the eradication process by eliminating boll weevil feeding and reproduction sites, making further insecticide treatments on these fields unnecessary.

SBL stalk destruction dates:

Destroyed by Credit amount
Sept. 22 $5 per acre
Sept. 29 $4 per acre
Oct. 6 $3 per acre
Oc. 13 $2 per acre

The assessment for 2003 in the South Texas/Winter Garden zone is $23.14 per land acre.

Assessment notices will be mailed by July 15, and payment is due Aug. 15. Growers who pay by July 31 are eligible to receive a 2 percent discount on their assessment.

Growers should note that the final certification date is not uniform across the zone.

Producers with cotton in the counties of Aransas, Duval, Jim Wells, Kleburg, Nueces, San Patricio, and Bee and Live Oak south of Highway 59 will receive a rebate of $2 per acre if the cotton is destroyed by Aug. 20.

Growers in the remaining counties of Atascosa, Bexar, Calhoun, Dewitt, Dimmitt, Frio, Goliad, Karnes, Kinney, Lasalle, McMullen, Medina, Refugio, Uvalde, Victoria, Wilson, Zavala and Bee and Live Oak north of Highway 59 will receive their rebate if stalks are destroyed by Sept. 20.

The same conditions apply to the stalk destruction rebate as apply to the failed-acres rebate. This rebate also will be paid in early 2004.

Cotton farmers in the Upper Coastal Bend zone will pay $20.20 per land acre, the maximum amount approved by voters in the referendum that established the zone.

Assessment notices will be mailed by July 15, and payment is due Aug. 15. Growers who pay by July 31 are eligible to receive a 2 percent discount on their assessments.

A credit for failed acres is available, but the credit differs from the one offered in 2002. In the diapause year, growers were given a credit if fields were destroyed before spraying began.

Growers may be eligible for a rebate for acres failed by the final certification date, June 16. Acres failed before the certification date qualify for a rebate of half the assessment if all cotton plants are destroyed and fields remain free of hostable plants before Dec. 31.

Producers who destroy their cotton before the TDA deadline for their area will qualify for stalk destruction rebates.

Growers in Austin, Brazoria, Colorado, Fort Bend, Waller counties and Wharton east of the Colorado River will receive a rebate of $5 per acre if the cotton is destroyed by Sept. 15 or $2.50 per acre if destroyed by Sept. 29. Growers in the remaining counties, Jackson, Matagorda and Wharton west of the Colorado River, will receive a rebate if stalks are destroyed by Sept. 1 and Sept. 15.

The assessment for 2003 in the El Paso/Trans Pecos Zone is $20 per land acre.

Growers who plant Bt cotton can qualify for a $10 credit if they specify the amount of Bt acreage planted when they certify their crop with the Farm Service Agency.

Growers with failed acres are eligible to receive a credit on acres completely destroyed prior to the final certification date.

Assessment notices will be mailed by Aug. 12, and payment is due Sept. 16. Growers who pay by Sept. 1 are eligible to receive a 2 percent discount on their assessment.

The assessment for 2003 in the Northern High Plains Zone is $6 per dryland acre and $12 per irrigated land acre.

Growers with failed acres are eligible to receive a credit on acres completely destroyed prior to the final certification date. Assessment notices will be mailed by Aug. 21, and payment is due Sept. 25. Growers who pay by Sept. 10 are eligible to receive a 2 percent discount.

The assessment for 2003 in the Northern Rolling Plains Zone is $10 per dry row acre and $15 per irrigated row acre.

Growers with failed acres are eligible to receive a credit of 50 percent of their assessment on acres completely destroyed prior to the final certification date.

Assessment notices will be mailed by Sept. 4, and payment is due Oct. 8. Growers who pay by Sept. 23 are eligible to receive a 2 percent discount on their assessment.

The assessment for the Northwest Plains Zone is $5 per dryland acre and $12 per irrigated land acre. Growers may receive a credit on failed acres. Assessment notices will be mailed by Aug. 21, and payment is due Sept. 25.

Growers who pay by Sept. 10 are eligible to receive a 2 percent discount.

Permian Basin Zone assessment is $6 per dryland acre and $12 per irrigated land acre.

Growers with failed acres may receive a credit on acres completely destroyed prior to the final certification date. Failed acres must remain free of all hostable cotton until a killing freeze to qualify.

Assessment notices will be mailed by Aug. 21, and payment is due Sept. 25. Growers who pay by Sept. 10 are eligible to receive a 2 percent discount.

Producers in the Rolling Plains Central Zone will pay $10 per land acre.

Like last year, all cotton acres planted in the zone are subject to the assessment.

Notices will be mailed by Aug. 12, and payment is due Sept. 16. Growers who pay by Sept. 1 are eligible to receive a 2 percent discount.

Southern High Plains/Caprock Zone producers will pay $6 per dryland acre and $12 per irrigated land acre.

Acres completely destroyed prior to the final certification date are eligible for the credit. Notices will be mailed by Aug.21, and payment is due Sept. 25. Growers who pay by September 10 are eligible to receive a 2 percent discount on their assessment.

Cotton producers in the Southern Rolling Plains Zone will shell out 80 percent of the maximum assessment for the zone. All cotton acres planted in the zone are subject to the assessment.

Notices will be mailed by Aug. 12, and payment is due Sept. 16. Growers who pay by Sept. 1 are eligible to receive a 2 percent discount on their assessment.

Assessment in the Western High Plains Zone is $6 per dryland acre and $12 per irrigated land acre.

Acres completely destroyed prior to final certification date are eligible for failed acreage credit. Notices will be mailed by August 21, and payment is due Sept. 25. Growers who pay by Sept.10 are eligible to receive a 2 percent discount on their assessment.

rsmith@primediabusiness.com