South Carolina farms annually grow more than $200 million dollars worth of cotton.
Image Credit: Clemson University Public Service and Agriculture

FLORENCE — Cotton farmers from across the state will gather Dec. 17 for updates in the battle against their arch enemy.

The South Carolina Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation will hold its annual cotton growers meeting at 10 a.m. Dec. 17 at Clemson University’s Pee Dee Research and Education Center in Florence County.

“This is the opportunity for all growers to provide input and to have questions answered regarding the Boll Weevil Eradication Program that is so important to our state’s cotton producers,” said David Howle, assistant director of Clemson’s regulatory services.

The single most destructive pest of cotton in the United States, the boll weevil crossed the Rio Grande in the late 19th century. By the 1930s it had devasted the American cotton crop, forcing farmers to combat it with heavy doses of pestiide.

First organized more than 30 years ago, the Boll Weevil Eradication Program combined coordinated pesticide applications with baited traps to methodically drive the insect back to Mexico.

Today it  is contained by a buffer zone and barrage of pesticide applications triggered by an early warning system of weevil traps. Those traps are maintained wherever cotton is grown — an essential precaution because boll weevils are highly mobile bugs that can easily hitch a ride to another field or across the country by squirreling away in farm equipment.

At the program’s annual meeting, farmers will hear updates from the S.C. Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation, the Southeast Boll Weevil Eradication Program and Clemson’s extension, research and regulatory programs.