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Eradication of the pinkie continues to near, cotton experts conclude, but is not a done deal.
Sterile moth releases
He expects the pink bollworm rearing facility in Phoenix to continue producing steriles for the foreseeable future. It was built with California cotton grower funding.
So far this year, there have been no native moths trapped in the San Joaquin. Last year by this time there were 29 trapped. When natives are trapped, program managers bombard the find areas with more steriles.
“We have had only one native find in Southern California,” Shropshire noted. This, he said, is due to the successful eradication program. “I am sure it has had an impact on the zero finds this year in the San Joaquin.”
So far this season, 144 million sterile moths have been released in the San Joaquin where there are 300,000 acres of cotton planted. The program is funded by grower assessments.
“I think it makes sense to keep the sterile program going for awhile, even if we do not trap any natives,” Shropshire said. “There is always a pinkie threat from Mexico, although I understand they have been doing a good job there getting it under control.”
Shropshire is stepping down as board chairman. “They have finally accepted my letter of resignation,” he laughed.
He has been trying to step down for several years, but the state has refused to accept his resignations. Bob Hull of Blythe has agreed to take his post.
“It has been a great experience; a great program and I am gratified that I have been a part of something that has achieved such significant success,” he said.
Far West Texas added the pinkie fight to its boll weevil pest eradication efforts in about 2001. Arizona was the last state to launch eradication in 2006.
As eradication nears, the National Cotton Council (NCC) will likely develop a generic eradication definition to fit the cotton states. NCC PBW committees consisting of growers and professional advisers must approve the definition. Official declarations will likely be declared by state governments.
Other instrumental warriors in PBW eradication include: Larry Antilla, director, Arizona Cotton Research and Protection Council (ACRPC), Phoenix, Ariz.; and entomologist Robert Staten, retired director, USDA-APHIS Methods Development Laboratory in Phoenix.
Staten is considered a PBW world authority. He currently consults with the ACRPC, National Cotton Council, Cotton Incorporated, and Mexico.
Antilla and Staten say it is difficult to pinpoint the total financial losses to the cotton industry from the pinkie insect. Years ago, several growers in California’s Imperial Valley spent $200-$400 on pinkie control, not including the yield losses, Staten says.
Antilla points to Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADA) 1080 PBW pesticide control documents analyzed in the mid-1990s. The paperwork suggests the equivalent of 72 million acres of pesticides were applied in Arizona and Southern California cotton fields between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s (pre-BT cotton) to fight the pinkie. Estimated pesticide costs were $1.3 billion.