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Articles from 2005 In July


Treasury Dept. Clarifies Cuba Rule to Allow Goods to be Paid to Third Party

U.S. farm sales to Cuba got a boost Friday with a clarification of how goods are paid to the communist-nation.

The Treasury Department issued a rule in February that required cash payment in advance for agricultural products sold to Cuba before they shipped from a U.S. port. Under the clarification, goods may be shipped to Cuba once payment is received by a third country bank acting as the seller's agent, thereby preventing seizure of the goods before leaving the United States.

"Prior to this clarification, direct payment from Cuba was required prior to shipment of any U.S. goods," says American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. "That interpretation made those goods vulnerable to seizure for unrelated claims before they could actually leave the U.S. port. It's little wonder Cuba had no interest in buying our goods under that circumstance."

Stallman explains that Cuba has been a growing market for U.S. food exports, but sales have dropped due to Treasury's initial rule change in February. "This clarification should help facilitate trade with Cuba, however, this does not fully resolve the overarching issue," he warns. "This is a good interim move that should provide some relief to U.S. producers, but the underlying issue of cash payments from Cuba remains, and AFBF will continue to work with Congress to legislatively overturn the Feb. 22 rule."

"We are hopeful that this clarification will create an avenue for the resumption of trade volumes with Cuba as those we have experienced in previous years," says U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Ken Hobbie.

Sen. Max Baucus, ranking democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, has blocked Treasury nominations since February. The Montana senator has cosponsored legislation with Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and twenty-eight other farm state senators from both sides of the aisle that would overturn the Treasury rule altogether. There also is legislation pending in both the House and Senate that would block enforcement of the February rule.

Corn+Soybean Digest

August 1, 2005

Glyphosate-Resistant Marestail Confirmed In California

Glyphosate resistance has taken another step in its march across the United States. University of California researchers recently identified a marestail (horseweed) population able to withstand four times the labeled rate of glyphosate in a research center near Fresno.

Although marestail resistance is not new in the United States, this case spotlights how dominant glyphosate resistance can be. Proper management has become more important than ever. Kurt Hembree, a U.C. Davis cooperative weed management farm advisor in Fresno County, who helped to identify the resistant population, says, "The location where this population was identified had been treated intensively with glyphosate for 15 years, with three or four applications a year. In just the last five years, we've seen the population of marestail in the (San Joaquin) Valley increase 10 fold."

Problem marestail can be found in vineyards, canal and irrigation banks, roadsides and gardens, and also poses a threat to conservation tillage programs in California. An overwhelming majority of the problem lies in perennial crops, such as orchards and vineyards, and has consumed roughly 600 miles of irrigation banks running nearby. Since the seeds are wind-blown, it's easy for resistant weed seeds to travel long distances and quickly enter new areas of the state. Due to groundwater regulations, glyphosate has become the most efficient herbicide to use for controlling weeds in this area. Should it become unavailable, options are very limited.

"Glyphosate is simply the world's greatest herbicide but, as a result, we are over-using this great resource and resistance is appearing worldwide, especially in the U.S. where glyphosate resistant soybeans, cotton and corn are dominant," says Dr. Stephen Powles, a leading glyphosate resistance expert from the University of Western Australia. "Glyphosate resistant marestail is now a problem in China, Spain, South Africa and reported in a number of other countries as well as the U.S., where it is already present on well over 2.5 million acres."

Researchers throughout the U.S. continue to investigate new cases of marestail resistance and are testing other potential weed species for resistance as well. Marestail resistance is confirmed in 11 states and this past year alone has spread to an additional nine counties in Indiana. Illinois has highly suspected populations in three counties. While Ohio has had resistant marestail for three years now, they are seeing some of the worst cases ever this year.

This week, palmer pigweed has surfaced as "probable" resistance to glyphosate in Georgia. While not yet identified as resistant, preliminary findings in field and greenhouse trials show a lack of control at labeled rates.

Glyphosate-resistant common ragweed was recently confirmed in Missouri and Arkansas, while giant ragweed is being tested for resistance in Indiana and Arkansas.

The spread of glyphosate resistance continues to grow and affect more weed species and more acres across the U.S and around the world. The trend follows very similarly to other patterns of herbicide resistance. For example, eight years after the first ACCase-resistant weed was identified, six weed species had developed resistance. Four years later that number had more than doubled to 13 weed species, while another five years later added another 15 species to the count. Glyphosate has only been intensively used in the U.S. since the introduction of glyphosate-tolerant crops in the mid-1990s. And, seven years after the first glyphosate-resistant weed was identified, seven species were found resistant.

"What is important to recognize is that persistent use of the same herbicide provides the ideal conditions for resistance to develop," Powles comments. "Greater diversity is required than using the same herbicide every year on the same land - diversity in herbicide mode of action and use of non-herbicide weed control tools are the best way to minimize the likelihood of resistance."

Syngenta Crop Protection recommends not using more than two applications of glyphosate on an individual field in a two-year period in glyphosate-tolerant (GT) corn and soybean systems. In GT cotton, up to three glyphosate applications may be used per crop year of employing in-crop cultivation and/or residual herbicides. Proper management can help control potential resistance and alleviate future problems.

The recent activity in California and around the rest of the United States only accentuates the need for action. "Two years ago, we didn't see any resistant marestail out here," Hembree says. "We need to do something and we need to do it now."

Soybean rust found on Georgia/South Carolina border

Two more cases of Asian soybean rust have been found on Georgia’s coastal plain. The state’s Brooks and Effingham counties are the rust’s latest place of residence.

“Finding rust in Brooks County isn’t a big surprise – it’s right on the Florida border, south of Colquitt County,” said Bob Kemerait, Georgia Extension plant pathologist on Friday afternoon. “So now, if you look at a map, there’s a line of counties with rust – Colquitt, Brooks and Tift.”

The Brooks County sample was collected Friday on a private research farm. “One of the employees saw a suspicious leaf and brought it in. We check many suspicious samples that aren’t rust. But this one was the real deal. There are some sharp people working on that farm.”

While not downplaying the Brooks County discovery, Kemerait described the Effingham County sentinel plot sample as “much more significant and disturbing.” The reason: Effingham County is just north of Savannah on the South Carolina border – well away from other areas rust has been confirmed.

“Of course, we didn’t know it definitely wasn’t there but we didn’t expect to find it on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, at least a couple of the leaves collected Thursday by Extension agent, Bill Tyson, are definitely positive for rust.

“Now, in a broken line, from the Alabama border in the southwest corner of Georgia’s coastal plain all the way up to the northeast corner of the plain we have rust sites. It’s a light sprinkling, nothing major. But we have to assume it could be anywhere in the southern part of the state.”

Fungicide recommendations continue to be “any coastal plain producer with a crop in the R-1 stage or beyond needs to seriously consider spraying.”

Coincidentally, Kemerait attended a producer meeting in Effingham County on Monday. “I told the growers, ‘We don’t think rust is here yet. To be safe, you can spray. But if you don’t, there’s probably time to hold off and see if rust moves in.’

“After this finding, of course, Extension went back and told the growers, ‘We’ve got it.’ We’re emphasizing the need to spray on the coastal plain.”

Kemerait said the disease has yet to “blow up. Anyone spraying probably doesn’t need to go with their biggest gun first. In most cases, a protective fungicide will do the job.”

e-mail: dbennett@primediabusiness.com

Over Half Of U.S. Farms Have Internet Access

A total of 51% of U.S. farms now have Internet access, compared to 48% with Internet access in 2003. Fifty-eight percent of farms have access to a computer in 2005, the same level as 2003. Fifty-five percent of all U.S. farms own or lease a computer, up slightly from 54% in 2003. Farms using computers for their farm business increased 1% from 2003 to 31% in 2005. It appears that computer usage, ownership, and Internet access on farms are leveling off.

In 2005, 79% of U.S. farms with sales and government payments of $250,000 or more have access to a computer, 77% own or lease a computer, 66% are using a computer for their farm business, and 72% have Internet access.

For farms with sales and government payments between $100,000 and $249,999, the figures are: 70% have access to a computer, 67% own or lease a computer, 51% are using a computer for their farm business, and 59% have Internet access. For farms with sales and government payments between $10,000 and $99,999, there were 55% that reported having computer access, 51% own or lease a computer, 33% use a computer for their farm business, and 47% have Internet access.

For crop farms, 60% have computer access and 33% use a computer for their farm business in 2005, the same as 2003. Internet access for crop farms has increased to 52% in 2005 compared to 49% in 2003. For livestock farms, 57% have computer access and 48% have Internet access, both up 1% from 2003. The use of a computer for farm business has increased to 29% for livestock farms, up 2% from 2003.

In 2005, 12% of the U.S. farms access Federal Government Web sites other than USDA, compared to 11% in 2003. Four percent of farms conduct business with a USDA Web site, up from 3% in 2003. Farms conducting business with any other Federal Government Web site dropped from 5% in 2003 to 3% in 2005. Also, 5% of the farms used a toll-free customer service number during the July 2004 to June 2005 period.

Two new questions were asked in 2005, including how operators access the Internet. Dialup was the most common method of accessing the Internet with 69% of U.S. farms. Operators were also asked if they conducted any non-agricultural business via the Internet in the last 12 months and 26% of the U.S. farms responded yes.

Guidebook for specialty grains

Think you can do better than the price of No. 2 Yellow? Premiums earned by growing "value added" crops such as food corn and other specialty grains can add to your bottom line. Earning that premium, however, takes extra work, investment and knowledge.

For the knowledge part, Purdue University is offering a helpful resource to get you started. "Grainsafe" is an online manual that guides producers through the value-added-grain process. The manual contains grain production and handling practices and related record-keeping forms.

The value-added resource is free and available by logging on to http://www.grainquality.org/. Scroll down the page to where it says "Grainsafe, On-Farm Quality Assurance Program" to download the information.

Cotton output headed back to earth

Was it technology or weather that produced the huge cotton crops of the world in 2004? While the debate is certainly not over, according to Peter Egli, a market analyst with Volcot America, Inc, it was mostly good weather that graced world growths last year, and it's very likely that a return to normalcy in world cotton yield is in the offing.

Egli, speaking at the Cotton Roundtable in New York City on July 8, said, “We had an incredible production increase of 24.5 million bales from 2003 to 2004, going from 95.1 million bales to 119.6 million bales. The biggest crop before that was 98.8 million bales in the 2002 season.”

Next season, world cotton acreage is expected to decline by a little over 5 percent overall, while yields are expected to drop to an average 600 pounds per acre, according to Egli. This forecast, if realized, would be the second highest yield ever. Last year's world crop averaged 640 pounds per acre.

Those yields would produce a world crop of 105.4 million bales, “but we must realize this number is nothing more than a starting point.”

Egli pointed out forecasters are still trying to figure out why last year's world crop was so good. “Were the yields of last year an aberration or are we at the beginning of a new yield plateau? The last time yields jumped to a new plateau was in 1984-85, with an increase of 27 percent over the previous five-year average. Yields were maintained at this level for the years to come.

“Interestingly, since then we have seen only slight increases in world yields. The five-year average today is only about 8 percent higher than in 1984. While I believe the combination of technology and weather led to the 2004 record crop, I believe weather played the bigger role. We didn't just hit a home run last season, we hit a grand slam. Therefore, for the current season, we should not set our yield expectations too high.”

Egli pointed out that technology is not widespread in areas that produced large crops. “While technology has certainly made great strides in recent years, especially in the Indian subcontinent, the biotech cotton areas account for only about 26 percent of all the cotton planted in the world, according to the International Cotton Advisory Council.”

Egli noted that the 10-year world yield average prior to this season was 534 pounds and the five-year average was 553 pounds. “This season, we were 21 percent and 17 percent, respectively, above these averages.

“The yield debate is incredibly important,” he said. “Even if world yields match the second-best record prior to last year, 570 pounds, we would have a crop of 100.2 million bales, which would be the second largest crop on record.

“Those who believe that technology has become a much more determining factor than weather will expect much higher production. I believe we need to be careful not to get carried away just because we had one good year.”

Here's how Egli sees world production in major cotton producing countries in 2005. He pegged U.S. production at around 19.8 million bales.

China — Egli sees a 12-percent reduction in acreage, with yields down slightly as well. This would produce a crop of 25 million bales, about 4 million bales fewer than last year. “There have been some issues with dry conditions in the northeastern cotton-producing regions, but timely rains over the last few days have improved the situation.”

India — Production is also expected to decline. “If there is one place where seed technology will make great strides in the coming years, it's India. Last year, India produced a record yield of 391 pounds, compared to 344 pounds the year before and a 10-year average of 275 pounds.

“So just over the last two years, yields have jumped by roughly 42 percent. Bt cotton certainly helped things along in India, but they did have a very beneficial monsoon season in 2004. The intermittent rain pattern allowed them to sow cotton for a longer period than normal, and insect pressure was much lower.

“This year, after a slow start, Indian's monsoon season is progressing, although some areas have seen some heavy flooding, which will require replanting. Some states in the south could use more rain.”

Egli projects an average yield of 340 pounds this season for India, “which would produce about 15.3 million bales, 2.8 million bales under the current season.”

Pakistan — Pakistan is maintaining its current cotton acreage. “The crop is doing well at the moment. But we don't expect to see record yields again. We look for a crop of around 9.8 million bales.”

West African countries — “We should also see a drop in West African production. Enthusiasm for cotton has dropped in lieu of the strong Euro. Their acres declined about 10 percent.”

Central Asia — “We look for slightly lower yields and a crop about 500,000 bales smaller than last year.”

Consumption

While world growers were producing the biggest cotton crop in history in 2004, the world's mills were spinning it. Mill consumption hit a record 108 million bales in 2004, up 9.7 million bales, or nearly 10 percent, from the year before. “That led to a production surplus of 11.6 million bales, one of the larger production surpluses in recent history, but still below the 17.9 million-bale surplus in 1984.”

Production outpaced consumption in 2004 and world ending stocks are projected to jump from 37.4 million to 48.7 million bales, an increase of 11.3 million bales. This is close to ending stocks of 1999-2001, noted Egli. But the rise in consumption has pushed the stocks-to-use ratio lower. The current ratio is the third lowest over the last 10 seasons.

There has been a dramatic change in where stocks are located, according to Egli. “China's stocks-to-use ratio has gone from 70.5 percent in 2001 to 19.5 percent in the current season. It is projected to go even lower, to 17.7 percent, by the end of the current marketing year.

“In contrast, the rest of the world saw their stocks-to-use ratio rise from 41.1 percent in 2001 to 59 percent in the current season. This is the highest ratio since the mid-1980s. Even with the expected drop in stocks next season, the stocks-to-use ratio will remain at a rather elevated 52.2 percent for the rest of the world (outside China).”

Egli noted that roughly half of the stocks increase in the world has occurred in India and Pakistan, “which are not likely to pressure the bull market with those supplies.”

China's stocks represent two months of consumption, “so they will have to import sizable amounts this summer.


e-mail: erobinson@primediabusiness.com

China frees yuan from dollar. So?

China's announcement that it is freeing its currency from the dollar and allowing it to “float” against other currencies did not set off mad stampedes on Wall Street.

Nor did it do much to appease growing criticism of China's economic policies, including its alleged currency manipulation that observers credit with making Chinese textile products 30 percent to 40 percent cheaper than U.S. products.

In some respects, the move was much like China's decision last fall to impose tariffs on textile exports — much sound and fury signifying nothing. It also bought time while Chinese firms continued to solidify the inroads they were making into U.S. markets.

Those tariffs did not slow the rapid expansion of imports, which grew by more than 1,000 percent in some categories earlier this year, prompting the U.S. textile industry to file more safeguard petitions to try to cool off the Chinese juggernaut.

According to reports, the People's Bank of China raised the value of the yuan by 2 percent to 8.11 to the dollar on July 21. The Chinese central bank also said it would allow the currency to rise or fall by no more than 0.3 percent from the center of the previous day's trading range.

That's called a “managed float,” which means the yuan could rise 6 percent in a month's time or not change at all, depending on what Zhou Xiaochuan, the governor of the bank, decides.

Chinese officials said they would allow the yuan to be pegged to a “basket” of currencies, the method used to determine the value of the Singapore dollar. But no one knows which currencies.

For now, the change is the equivalent of no more than a “rounding error” in China's economic numbers, as one observer put it, but it's also important that it did not produce a more drastic reaction in the world's financial markets.

With its growing trade surplus with the United States ($650 billion in 2004), China has become a major investor in the U.S. markets, holding an estimated $240 billion in U.S. Treasury notes.

China's huge investment is part of official policy aimed at keeping its currency from rising. The question now becomes whether the new policy results in reduced purchases of dollars and a corresponding rise in U.S. interest rates with negative ramifications for the U.S. housing market and consumer spending.

This is particularly worrisome, said author Clyde Prestowitz, an official in the Reagan administration, because the current administration does not have an official policy to deal with it.

“That these (budget) deficits have to be financed by ever more borrowing from abroad, and that this strategy is mortgaging large U.S. assets to foreign lenders, it is argued, should be of no concern because foreigners will continue to put their money in America,” he said.

“But the economic thinking that allows American leaders to take these positions are badly out of touch with reality.”

Colorado farmers protect endangered species

Most farmers don't have anything against protecting endangered wildlife. It's just that they can't see much future in trying to save the red cockaded woodpecker or the mountain plover or some other species at the expense of their own.

But farmers are willing to manage their resources for preservation efforts if they can be shown they will truly make a difference in their survival, a representative of the American Farm Bureau Federation told members of the Senate Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water.

Testifying at a July 13 hearing on reforming the Endangered Species Act, Colorado Farm Bureau President Alan Foutz recounted the role farmers in his state played in helping ensure the mountain plover remains a viable species.

The mountain plover is a small shorebird found in the western Great Plains that was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1999, more than 25 years after Congress first passed the law in 1973.

“As with many such species, little was known scientifically about the bird,” said Foutz. “It was believed that conversion to agricultural lands destroyed plover habitat, and it was feared that a listing would have severe impacts on agriculture.

“Scientists really didn't know much about the bird, however, because it was believed that many lived on private lands and private landowners were reluctant to let state or federal officers onto their land. But they also did not want to see the plover listed without scientific justification.”

Deciding the issue had to be resolved, the Colorado Farm Bureau began working with landowners, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory and the Nature Conservancy to open lands to the inventory and study of mountain plovers.

“Convincing our members to open their lands to researchers was a tough sell, not because our members did not want to protect and enjoy plovers on their lands, but because of the restrictions that would be placed on their lands if the species were listed and their land identified as habitat,” said Foutz. “To our members' credit, they recognized the need for good scientific information.”

Over the next three years, Colorado Farm Bureau members provided access to more than 300,000 acres of private lands for studying the plover. They also donated their time as field volunteers in the research effort.

Researchers found that rather than destroying plover habitat, agricultural lands actually provided important nesting habitat for the species and that many of the practices that would have been restricted under an endangered species listing actually were beneficial for the plovers.

Farmers also worked with researchers to develop a way to prevent the destruction of plover nests by farm machinery.

“Farmers are more than willing to avoid nests, but they often cannot see them while operating large machinery,” said Foutz. “To remedy that situation, the Farm Bureau and Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory developed a unique program.”

Farmers call a toll-free number 72 hours before plowing, and the Observatory sends someone to survey the field and flag plover nests so that equipment operators can avoid destroying them.

As a result of those efforts, the Fish and Wildlife Service determined that listing the mountain plover was not warranted and withdrew the proposal. Farmers were able to continue their operations and the plover-nesting habitat was enhanced by certain agricultural practices.

Foutz said Colorado farmers and the Colorado Farm Bureau learned some valuable lessons from this experience. “First, we demonstrated that farmers will work to protect species and are willing to meet halfway if government officials are also willing to meet halfway.

“Second, flexible cooperation between landowners and the services is the best way to make the ESA work for landowners and promote species recovery. Third, we all learned that practical solutions to potential conflicts do not need to cost a fortune. Lastly, we all learned the value of obtaining good scientific data to combat real problems, not hypothetical ones.”

While Foutz was not the only witness testifying before the committee, his comments echoed the complaints congressional critics have leveled against the Endangered Species Act. Chief among those is the ESA's poor success rate.

Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., chairman of the House Resources Committee, recently released a report that said the federal government is making scant progress in the area of species protection and recovery.

“The Endangered Species Act's less than 1 percent success rate for species recovery is a well-documented and readily-available statistic, but the status of the remaining species on its list has not been as clear until now,” he said. “This exhaustive review of government data makes it clear the vast majority of these species have not improved under implementation of current law.”

Pombo said the resources committee's oversight and investigation staff spent months researching and reviewing Federal Register notices, agency expenditure reports, data from Fish & Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries reports to Congress and dozens of critical habitat designation economic impact statements and recovery plans.

“The ESA has not achieved its original intent of recovering species,” Pombo said. “In fact, there is little evidence of progress in the law's 30-year history. After this review, no reasonable person can conclude the ESA is sustainable in its current form.”

The review shows that after 30 years only 10 of nearly 1,300 species have recovered and, in many cases, the ESA was not the primary factor in the recovery — as was shown in Foutz testimony on the mountain plover.

According to the Fish & Wildlife Service's most recent report to Congress, 77 percent of listed species are classified in the FWS' lowest recovery achieved category, having met only 0 to 25 percent of recovery objectives. Only 2 percent fall into the highest recovery achieved category, having met 76 to 100 percent of recovery objectives.

Of the 33 species reclassified by the FWS in the act's history, only 10 domestic species were downlisted — from endangered to threatened — because the species had improved.

Pombo said that at least 15 of the 33 domestic species that have been delisted in the act's history were removed from the list because of original data error, and erroneous data was a contributing factor in at least 10 of 19 of the downlisted species.

Expenditures by federal, state and private parties on species listed based on erroneous data could total hundreds of millions of dollars, funds that could be otherwise directed to species that are actually endangered or threatened.

“The current program clearly costs billions of dollars, but insufficient economic information is collected to reasonably determine the true cost of the law, as all federal, state and private expenditure reporting cannot be assessed,” said Pombo, who held a field hearing on the ESA in Jackson, Miss., earlier this year.

Witnesses testified at that hearing that lawsuits involving endangered species and habitat protection have tied up construction projects and cost jobs in timber and other agriculturally related industries.

“Given the act's poor recovery rate, the pool of future possible additions — FWS now recognizes an additional 283 species as candidates for listing — litigation demands and conservative consideration of cost data, the current program is not sustainable,” said Pombo.

(The Fish & Wildlife Service's current litigation workload for listing and critical habitat includes 34 active lawsuits with respect to 48 species, 40 court orders involving eight species and 36 notices of intent to sue involving 104 species, according to the House Resources Committee.)

Republican members of Congress aren't the only ones calling for a rewrite. The Boston Herald recently said the law is clearly in need of a major overhaul.

“There's a good argument that the 1973 act actually is now hurting the protection of nature's most fragile creatures because some landowners ‘shoot, shovel and shut up,’” it said in an editorial. “That is they kill any species of interest, bury the carcass and say nothing.”


e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com

Boll weevil on last legs in Mississippi

Efforts to rid Mississippi of the boll weevil have resulted in success, but eradication program supervisors are concerned that because the pest may be increasingly out of growers' sight, it may be off their minds.

According to updated surveys, three of the five regions still under eradication supervision still show some evidence of the pest. Statistically, two quadrants — Region 4 (northeast Miss.) and Region 2 (southern Delta) — are free of weevils, while both Region 1A (northern Delta) and Region 1B (central Delta) are more than 99 percent free.

The fifth quadrant, Region 3, and more specifically in the hilly area of the middle of the state, is considered the pest's lone holdout, with 86.7 percent fee of boll weevils.

“It's the bluff area that seems to be the most difficult with infestations,” said Ferrell Boyd, who heads the Mississippi Boll Weevil Eradication project.

But by this year's end, Boyd believes that Region 3, which encompasses about 350,000 acres, could be void of the pest.

“The main thing I hear from growers is that the weevil program worked when many thought it never would,” he said. “Many may still think it's a burden, they don't necessarily like the idea of a monitor coming onto their land — but it has been economically advantageous.”

Boyd said it's critical for farmers to keep pheromone traps upright on their property for continued monitoring.

He said communication efforts are now under way to remind farmers that while the bug may be reaching a level of insignificance in Mississippi, re-infestation could easily unfold without cautious, proper preparation.

“Once they are wiped out then you have to worry about transference of the bug from an infested field to a non-infested field,” he said.

Such occurrence can happen easily, he noted, when farmers fail to sufficiently clean farming equipment between uses in various fields. Boyd said growers should diligently wash equipment with a strong flow of water.

He said farmers could also infest fields when they use equipment borrowed or purchased from other regions still fighting the pest, such as areas in Texas.

“We are trying to hammer those two points in growers' minds now,” Boyd said. “The greatest fear is that weevils are transported from other areas into clean ones, so we are trying to educate not just farmers, but equipment salesmen, too.”

Yet another looming problem associated with the threat of the boll weevil is directly related to the program's success.

Boyd said new farmers may not appreciate how much disruption the boll weevil — which once cost Mississippi cotton farmers $21 million annually just to control — can cause.

“By and large a main problem is that you are seeing another generation of growers who, because of eradication efforts, have never seen the boll weevil and never seen its destruction,” Boyd said.


e-mail: abell@primediabusiness.com