INSURANCE adjusters walked the cotton furrows of West Texas this fall assessing the remnants of yet another relentless drought.

Already hundreds of thousands of acres had been declared "failed," and that total will likely increase dramatically. Agents from Dawson, Hockley, Gaines, Martin, Terry, Winkler and Yoakum counties told State Rep. Gary Walker of Plains that at least 500,000 acres of the 2000 cotton crop in those counties alone were lost, and the total likely would go higher.

Not all West Texas cotton is dryland. Obviously some is irrigated, and those crops did not look bad. However, the seed cotton going into the strippers would be expensive because of heavy pressure from insects, specifically the beet armyworm. BAW was reported in very high numbers in many areas.

Boll weevil eradication program critics contend weevil treatments spark outbreaks of other pests. Beet armyworm is one most often associated with that.

"We starting seeing beet armyworms during pre-squaring," said Extension IPM Specialist for Terry and Yoakum counties, Scott Russell. "And, we saw armyworms in areas where there is no boll weevil eradication."