Growers from the only two cotton production areas in Texas not in active boll weevil eradication zones have requested referendums to enter the fold.

Both the Lower Rio Grande Valley and the Northern Blacklands zones have requested votes on eradication, says Brian Murray, special assistant for producer relations with the Texas Department of Agriculture.

“The Northern Blacklands growers have asked for an opportunity to vote. We don't have a referendum date set but will be working on it. We plan to have a referendum in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in the first half of November 2004,” Murray says.

Mexico eases job

The LRGV initiative may be a tad easier than was the case until Mexico instituted an eradication program. “Mexico's participation makes the job much easier,” he said. “We've seen how effective cooperation can be with the success in El Paso and the Mexican state of Chihuahua. They're cooperating with both boll weevil and pink bollworm eradication.”

Charles Allen, program director for the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation, says organizers in the LRGV are planning a series of educational meetings for early October.

“A lot of planning remains to be done in the Valley,” Allen says. “We're still trying to set a date for the referendum and for an area-wide meeting.

“This is a very promising turn of events,” Allen says. “We hope to have a referendum in the Northern Blacklands by December 2004 or January 2005. When we get these two zones in we'll have all the cotton in Texas in active eradication.”

Pivotal areas

And that will be good news to the state's cotton farmers, he says. “We are making progress, but we still have more to do. The Northern Blacklands and the Lower Rio Grande Valley are pivotal. We have to have those areas to complete the job.”

And the job is coming along nicely in most active zones.

Allen says traps in the newly created zone in the Texas Panhandle, “caught no weevils in the first year. The Northwest Plains and the El Paso zones also have caught no weevils in 2004 (as of August 9). We caught only two weevils all year in the Northern High Plains and only one in the Northern Rolling Plains. And that one was before we had hostable cotton.”

In the Southern High Plains, total weevil catch was 13. In the Western High Plains, trappers caught three weevils. Foundation trappers caught 8 weevils in the Southern Rolling Plains and Allen suspects those came in on north winds out of the St. Lawrence area. The Rolling Plains Central is also in pretty good shape,” he says. “As of Aug. 9, we had caught 350 weevils.”

The exception in West Texas has been the Permian Basin zone, where 4,600 boll weevils found their way into traps.

Allen says catches also remain high in the Southern Blacklands but attributes some of the numbers to heavy rainfall that prevented timely trapping early in the season. He said South Texas Winter Garden and the Upper Coastal Bend continue to see fairly high numbers as well, partly from in-migration from the Lower Rio Grande Valley, which underscores the critical role eradication in that zone will play for nearby active zones.

Allen says the Lower Rio Grande Valley Cotton and Grain Association is leading the effort to set up educational meetings in the area.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com