FLORENCE — Cotton farmers from across South Carolina will gather Dec. 12 for updates in the battle against their arch enemy.

cotton field

The South Carolina Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation annual meeting is scheduled for Dec. 12 at Clemson’s Pee Dee Research and Education Center.
Image Credit: Clemson University

The South Carolina Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation will hold its annual cotton growers meeting at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 12 at Clemson University’s Pee Dee Research and Education Center, 2200 Pocket Road, Florence.

“This is an 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 Stephen Cole, director of Clemson’s Regulatory and Public Service Programs and Plant Industry department head.

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 devastated the American cotton crop, forcing farmers to combat it with heavy doses of pesticide. The weevil has not been seen in South Carolina since the early 2000s, Cole said.

Since its inception in the late 1970s, the Boll Weevil Eradication Program has 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.