Perdue: Cotton is free of pink bollworm |

Perdue: Cotton is free of pink bollworm

Pictured is a Pink bollworm, Pectinophora gossypiella.
Photo by /Peggy Greb, USDA Agriculture Research Service

Pink bollworm has been eliminated from all cotton-producing areas in the continental United States and the Agriculture Department is lifting the domestic quarantine for pink bollworm, relieving restrictions on the domestic and international movement of U.S. cotton, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Friday.

“Removing pink bollworm regulations eases the movement of cotton to market both domestically and internationally because farmers will have fewer restrictions to deal with, like fumigation requirements,” Perdue said.

In a history of the infestations, USDA said, “Pink bollworm was first detected in the United States in Hearne, Texas, in 1917. Extensive efforts by the Cooperative Extension Service in coordination with individual producers eliminated the infestation in Texas and an infestation found in Louisiana in 1919. In the 1930s, the pest re-invaded the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. By the mid-1950s, the pest had spread to surrounding states and eventually reached California in 1963.

“In 1955, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service established domestic pink bollworm regulations. At the height of the program, 10 states (Arizona, Arkansas, California, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Nevada, Mississippi, and Missouri) were quarantined for this pest. Many of these infestations were suppressed through cooperative federal, state and industry programs. By 2003, only Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas remained under regulation.

“Eradication of pink bollworm took years of committed research by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and included planting transgenic cotton, using insect pheromones to disrupt mating, releasing sterile insects to prevent reproduction and extensive survey. Many of the research findings by ARS became management strategies used by APHIS and cotton growers in their battle against pink bollworm.”

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