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Ornamental cotton? Check for weevils

Officials with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry say cotton plants may look beautiful in private home landscapes but the state must monitor all planted cotton, including those used for ornamental purposes, for boll weevil presence.

Todd Parker, LDAF assistant commissioner for the Office of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said state boll weevil eradication laws provide that anyone who wants to plant any cotton for non-commercial purposes must receive prior permission from the Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry.

“We need to know where all the cotton plants are located throughout the state to monitor for the boll weevil to protect Louisiana’s cotton industry,” Parker said. “The LDAF puts out more than 100,000 traps in cotton fields annually to check for the presence of boll weevils.”

Increasing numbers of gardeners outside traditional cotton-growing areas are planting cotton to spruce up their garden landscapes. Others plant small plots for fiber to spin their own thread for fabrics. The LDAF must place a boll weevil trap at these locations, Parker said.

Historically, the boll weevil has been cotton’s most destructive pest. All cotton-growing states have eradication programs.

Cotton remains one of Louisiana’s leading crops and was worth more than $200 million to the state in 2007 but declined in 2008 due to harvesting issues caused by hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The 2008 numbers totaled to more than 290,000 acres planted with a gross farm value of $134 million.

For more information regarding planting of non-commercial or ornamental cotton, please contact the Louisiana Boll Weevil Eradication Program office at (225) 952-8105.

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