Farmers are no strangers to challenges! Year after year, threats to our hard work put us to the test. And the constant pressure to produce a crop in the face of inclement weather, drought, and other forces is what sets us apart from those that are not up to the challenge!
Today, we’re taking a brief glance at the history of one of the most significant threats to cotton production in the 19th and 20th centuries: the boll weevil.
The Invasion and Initial Response
In the late 19th century, boll weevils first made an appearance in the United States when they migrated into the cotton belt from Mexico. It wasn’t until 1958, however, that the National Cotton Council recognized their presence and its severity. What followed was a series of experiments and programs that focused on the total eradication of boll weevils on the Texas High Plains. Then, in 1978, the National Boll Weevil Eradication Program was launched.
The National Boll Weevil Eradication Program
The National Boll Weevil Eradication Program, the official Congressional response to the presence of boll weevils, began in 1978 along the border between Virginia and North Carolina. With the support of growers funds and the state and federal governments, various referendums were put in place to expand the reach of the program into other southeastern states, and eventually Arizona, California, Mexico, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas.
Losses and Results
According to ScienceDirect, it has been estimated that the “actual damage loss combined with control costs attributed to the boll weevil exceeded $16 billion (consumer-price-index-adjusted value of $91 billion),” which amounted to a 30-50% crop loss in infested areas, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
While it’s growth and expansion was slow, the National Boll Weevil Eradication Program eventually led to increased crop yields of 10% or more and a decrease in the use of insecticides, which also led to a reduction in production costs. While the presence of the boll weevil has been mostly successfully eradicated, there is still a presence in Texas due to insects blown in via winds (National Cotton Council).
While some threats to cotton such as these may be harder to mitigate successfully, Hurst Farm Supply is prepared to help serve you and your operation in any way that we can. Visit a Hurst Farm Supply location today for help with all-things harvest season, including equipment, service, guidance, and more.
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In the meantime, click below to download your harvest checklist for help keeping track of all of your to-do’s this season!