Far West Texas is nearing a decade in pinkie eradication. The El Paso/Trans Pecos area includes about 37,000 acres of cotton and about 3,600 PBW traps. The last trapped native moth was found in November 2009. The last larva was found in 2007.

Overall, eradication is proceeding as planned in the El Paso/Trans Pecos corridor, according to Larry Smith, program director, Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation, Abilene, Texas.

Last year’s fertile moth release hiccup in the Fabens area was a concern. Fabens area farmers grow about 7,500 acres of cotton.

In response to the fertile moth drop, the foundation directed most of the available steriles for the area to be dropped in the Fabens area. Pheromone rope was placed on cotton plants from south of Fabens to the El Paso city limits.

“The El Paso/Trans Pecos area was essentially eradicated until the fertile moth drop,” Smith said. “It looks like our efforts with the extra steriles and rope are paying off. We have not caught a single native moth in this area this year.”

New Mexico has about 30,000 acres of cotton statewide. Joe Friesen, program director, South Central New Mexico Pink Bollworm Control Committee, Las Cruces, manages PBW eradication in the southwestern counties of Dona Ana, Luna, and Sierra (13,000 cotton acres). The tri-county area is in the monitoring phase.

Friesen reports the last native adults were caught in 2007. The last larva found in a cut boll was in 2004.

“To have zeroes is a good feeling,” Friesen said. “We’ve been able to knock them out. If we can hold our ground, things will be fine.”

Arizona cotton growers narrowly defeated a PBW eradication referendum in 1998. Growers then passed a referendum in 2004 by an 80-percent-plus margin. The referendum requires eradication in each of Arizona’s three eradication zones within four years.

“In this regard, we have a statutory timetable; not a biological timetable,” Antilla noted. “Thanks to the effectiveness of the tools available, the two timetables have coincided.”

Approximately 4,000 traps statewide are checked weekly.

Area One eradication was launched in eastern and central Arizona counties in 2006. Formal eradication was completed last year. Monitoring, sterile moth releases and trapping continue.

“We caught 207,000 natives in traps in central Arizona in 2006; so far we have eight captures in 2010,” Antilla said. “We haven’t found a larva since 2008.”

The natives were found in the Tonopah and Harquahala areas in western Maricopa County.

Area Two eradication was kicked off in 2007 in La Paz and Mohave counties which border the Colorado River. There are no native captures or evidence of reproduction. Area Two also includes the Southern California counties of Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial.

Areas One and Two have a 99.99 percent reduction in pinkies to date, Antilla reports. 2010 is the final year for Area Two eradication.

Area Three eradication was launched in 2008 in Yuma County. Moth captures have declined 99.4 percent.

“I hope to have no reproduction in Yuma County by the end of this year,” Antilla said. “Year four (2011) would basically include cleaning up and maintaining maximum trapping and sterile moth releases.”

Mexico has done a good eradication job so far, Staten says. The major cotton-growing areas include the states of Chihuahua (150,000 cotton acres), Sonora (9,000 acres), and Baja California (49,000 acres). The major growing areas in Chihuahua include Ascension, Ojinaga, Delicias and Juárez. San Luis is the top cotton area in Sonora. Major production in Baja is centered in Mexicali.

“We have not found a single larva in the state of Chihuahua for three years,” Staten said.

Achieving eradication of the pink bollworm in desert cotton is at arm’s length.

“It’s essential that each of the multiple organizations involved in pink bollworm eradication stay on track,” Antilla said. “That’s what it will take to finish the job.”

cblake@farmpress.com

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