The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) reminds cotton harvesters that equipment moving into zones that have been suppressed or functionally eradicated of boll weevils must be free and clean of all cotton - lint and plant material - and boll weevils. This will help greatly to reduce the risk of re-infesting areas that have eliminated the destructive cotton pest.
"Producers in suppressed or functionally eradicated zones should also be on the lookout for any dirty equipment that moves through the area or onto their property," says David Kostroun, TDA assistant commissioner for Regulatory Programs. "Texas is beginning to win the war against the boll weevil, and this added precaution will help protect cotton farmers who have devoted their time and effort over the years to eradicate the boll weevil."
TDA inspectors are conducting road station inspections across Texas on the lookout for dirty cotton equipment. Any dirty equipment will be turned back, and must be cleaned outside of the protected zone. In addition, the owner of the equipment may be subject to a fine of up to $5,000 per violation.
Anyone moving or transporting cotton equipment or vehicles into or through a suppressed or functionally eradicated zone must clean their equipment either by high-pressure air, high-pressure water, fumigation, or they can remove lint and plant material by hand. They also may contact a TDA regional office and schedule an inspection. A TDA inspector will check the equipment, or vehicle, and if clean, issue a phytosanitary certificate declaring "boll weevil-free status."
Because of the success of the Texas program, all cotton-growing areas in the state are under some form of boll weevil eradication. The functionally eradicated areas are the Rolling Plains Central and Southern Rolling Plains. The suppressed zones are Panhandle, Northwest Plains, Northern High Plains, Northern Rolling Plains, Southern High Plains/Caprock, Western High Plains, Permian Basin, and El Paso/Trans Pecos.
Cotton harvesters can contact TDA's Austin headquarters at (800) TELL-TDA for more information on scheduling an inspection.