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Cotton Growers Demand, Receive Answers
GRENADA -- Cotton growers from Mississippi's eastern counties recently aired complaints against 1995's boll weevil eradication efforts and received information on improvements planned for 1996.
Growers from Region IV's 29 counties down the eastern side of the state joined growers from across Mississippi at the annual meeting of the Mississippi Boll Weevil Management Corp. in Grenada.
A devastating insect year resulted in growers from several counties accusing eradication efforts for low yields and crop failures.
Dr. Blake Layton, extension entomologist at Mississippi State University, said eradication efforts may have contributed to the tobacco budworm problem, but they were not the cause.
"Tobacco budworms hit the state earlier and in higher numbers than normal -- both inside and outside the eradication zone," Layton said. "The main thing that is clear is the worms attacked the hill area of Mississippi most severely. This would indicate climate as the key factor in the excessive numbers."
Several improvements in the eradication program were explained during the meeting. These changes are planned to make trap monitoring easier, reduce the risk to beneficial insects and to increase grower input on the program.
Fewer traps can be used in 1996 in Region IV to provide information effectively because Region IV is considered a buffer zone, rather than an eradication zone. This year one trap will be set for every 5 acres of cotton with a minimum of three traps per field. In 1995, the rate was about one trap to every acre. With fewer traps, management will be less labor intensive and therefore, less costly.
Grower concerns over insecticide resistance to secondary pests resulted in the recommendation for fewer midseason sprayings to control weevils. Growers will be able to request midseason sprays as the need arises rather than basing insecticide applications primarily on trap catches.
"We're willing to offer growers who are opposed to the program a blank piece of paper and to make the program whatever they want to get rid of boll weevils," said Kenneth Hood, president of the Mississippi Boll Weevil Management Corp. "We want to continue the program across the state as soon as possible. I wish the region of the state that my farm is in was already in the eradication program," said Hood, a Bolivar County cotton grower.