Cotton-growing season has begun in Texas as growers in the southern part of the state have begun planting and those in other areas will begin soon.

Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation officials remind growers of the importance of providing full vehicular access to all sides of cotton fields. When cotton producers begin planting, foundation employees place boll weevil traps around the perimeters of the fields. The traps contain a pheromone attractant that lures boll weevils into the traps and an insecticide strip that keeps them from leaving.

The traps serve two important functions: eliminating weevils from fields and providing data on weevil activity. The foundation uses the data to measure the progress of eradication and to make treatment decisions.

Employees check the traps weekly. Placing the traps around all sides of the fields provides better data on weevil activity and makes treatment decisions more accurate. Without this data, weevil infestations may go unnoticed, and the length of time to complete eradication is extended.

Field edges may also need to be treated from the ground using truck-mounted mist blowers. Without full access to fields, the edges cannot be treated. Untreated cotton provides a haven for boll weevils to feed and reproduce, which again extends the time necessary to complete eradication.

The most efficient method for checking the traps is for employees to drive around the perimeter of the field. Access makes it possible for the employees to easily place the traps around the fields and later to check the traps, record the data and service the traps from the pickup.

Without access, the employees' ability to check a large number of traps quickly is reduced and more employees may need to be hired to check the traps. Employee safety is also an issue in full-field access.

The foundation is committed to a safe work environment for its employees. Checking traps from a pickup protects employees from slips and falls that may occur from walking in fields, crossing ditches and other hazards. Injured employees often cannot work for a period of time, increasing the load on other employees and decreasing the efficiency of the effort.

Reducing the number of injured employees has a positive effect on the foundation's insurance costs, and the savings can be used to shorten the amount of time needed to pay off a zone's obligations.

Foundation employees are willing to work with growers within program guidelines to place traps in the most accessible and efficient locations that have the least impact on farming operations. Growers with questions should contact their field unit supervisors or the nearest district office.

The Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation is a nonprofit, grower-initiated and funded organization dedicated to eliminating the cotton boll weevil from the state in the most cost effective and environmentally responsible manner possible.