After two extensions on the stalk destruction deadline, the Rio Grande Valley was about to dry out following two weeks of dry weather, when widespread rainfall Sept. 28 soaked the Valley again, prompting the Texas Department of Agriculture to extend stalk destruction deadline again, to Oct. 18.

The Cotton Producer Advisory Committee for the Texas Department of Agriculture, Cotton Stalk Destruction Zone 1 (which includes the Rio Grande Valley) met Oct. 3 to discuss the wet conditions and the current state of cotton stalk destruction.

Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation officials reported that about 3,500 acres of cotton are currently hostable in the LRGV, including fields previously identified as non-hostable but now have regrowth from stalks or seed. Many more acres of volunteer cotton are expected to become hostable within the next two weeks if not taken care of promptly.

Committee chair, Joe Pennington, reported that the committee carefully considered the options, and decided to extend the stalk destruction deadline by an additional two weeks because many areas were soaked by the Sept. 28 rain.

Cotton producers in TDA Zone 1 now have until October 18, 2007 to render their fields non-hostable and must keep them non-hostable through March 1, 2008.

Chairman Pennington and the Cotton and Grain Producers Association realize that cotton stalk destruction has been extremely difficult this year, and we wish to thank growers who have done every thing possible to destroy stalks. However, we continue to urge all cotton growers to be vigilant of regrowth and volunteer cotton that is about to become hostable, and to continue taking every step possible to destroy stalks and volunteer cotton.

Every week that the TBWEF has to continue spraying increases costs of paying out the program for all cotton growers, and despite the best efforts at spraying, a few weevils will slip through and reproduce.

Producers should consider spraying fields if it appears they will not be dry anytime soon, and if it can be done safely. If 2,4-D cannot be used safely, consider using a safer, but maybe less effective, herbicide that will set the plants back, if only for a few weeks.

If the weather remains favorable, another extension will be unlikely. If producers still have wet areas the week of Oct. 18, they should file with TDA for individual extensions prior to the new deadline.