Valley Cotton Farmer Taking New Warning on Bollworm Seriously
MERCEDES – A Mercedes cotton grower is fighting to keep a pest from devastating his fields. He says he planted last month and now needs to keep the Bollworm away.
Mike England says he's been in the cotton industry for decades and remembers well what type of damage pests did to his crops.
He says in 1991, White Fly wiped out his crop and in 1995, Beet Armyworm did what he called "biblical damage" to cotton in South Texas.
He is paying attention to a new warning to Rio Grande Valley farmers about Bollworm.
England says, though the season is just starting up, he expects it to go well.
"This cotton crop is off to a good start. Nothing that a good rain filled with nitrogen couldn't help," he says.
But England says he is concerned the good season could go horribly wrong if a moth known as the Bollworm infests his crops.
The Bollworm attacks the fruiting body of cotton, destroying crops.
England notes he is concerned about a new warning about the pest from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.
"They can completely wipe you out," he tells us.
He adds it could be a major loss for his farm if it is struck by these moths.
"It costs so much now to produce an acre of cotton. With technology fees and cottonseed prices alone, it's a fortune," says England.
England says with the knowledge of what damage these pests can do to his crop, he’s taking precaution this year.
"We have some chemicals on the market today that are very specific to the pest and used in minute amount. A lot of the chemicals we're spraying today is a one ounce per acre rate," he explains.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension to hear what England can do to protect his crop.
A cotton expert with the group, Danielle Sekula, says most cotton in the Valley is grown to be resistant to pests. But, she says, it is important for farmers to be vigilant and monitor their fields for these moths because their crops are still vulnerable to a rapid growth of the Bollworm.
"They'll lay their eggs on the undersides of the leaves and they'll go feed on the fruit where the – where it's squaring or if it's already turned into a ball," she warns.
Sekula adds most Valley cotton farmers have expert consultants they work with to help them make decisions on how to keep the Bollworm away from their crops.
She notes most cotton farmers are aware of her group's warning and they are taking steps to treat their crop.
England says he is in contact with an entomologist or insect scientist, who is checking his crops for the moth.