COLLEGE STATION – The recent cold weather could yield the best chance in a decade to eradicate the boll weevil in South Texas according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service expert.
“It’s really the best opportunity to bring about the death knell for the weevil,” said Dr. Noel Troxclair, AgriLife Extension entomologist. “That’s the way I envision it.”
The region was making strides in eradicating the boll weevil until some major setbacks a few years ago, said Troxclair, who is based at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Uvalde.
In 2007, for example, a protracted rainy period meant entomology scouts couldn’t check traps, delaying aerial applications.
The rain also washed off insecticides when they were applied.
This year, the area had wet weather leading up to the freeze.
Uvalde and surrounding counties had highs of about 16 degrees and lows of about 10 degrees. In some areas, the low reached about zero degrees.
“Because it was kind of damp before the freeze, it should have an adverse effect on the boll weevil – a direct effect,” Troxclair said.
In addition to directly affecting boll weevil, the winter freeze will also effect over-wintering and food sources for the weevil, he said. A wet fall resulted in a lot of cotton seed in the soil that germinated, but were killed by the freeze. There were a lot mature volunteer plants that were a year old, and the freeze killed them too.
Troxclair said the effect the freeze had on the weevil won’t be known for certain until the growing season and the results from traps are collected.
“And I don’t mean we’ll eradicate it this year,” Troxclair said. “But we could get it to the point that they won’t recover.”
The following summaries were compiled by AgriLife Extension district reporters:
Temperatures became more moderate after a week of extreme cold. Some oats were damaged from the freeze. The amount of damage depended upon the variety planted, the elevation of the field and other variables. The freeze also significantly set back other small grains, but growers expected the crops to recover as soil moisture levels were high. Livestock producers continued to provide supplemental feed to livestock.
Heavy rain saturated soils. Producers got some spring wheat planted before the rain came. Winter grasses were growing. In most areas, beef producers continued to feed livestock hay and protein supplements.
Colder-than-normal temperatures halted winter forage growth then caused decline. Pastures began to recover later in the reporting period with rain and warmer temperatures. Livestock were in fair to good condition with supplemental feeding. Some producers had to break through ice to allow livestock access to water. Feral hog activity increased, and deer/car accident reports increased as well.
Milder temperatures came to the region. Though there was a light snowfall, conditions remained very dry. Pasture quality diminished. The cotton harvest ended with better yields than expected. Wheat and oats progressed at a steady rate and were expected to produce average yields.
The cold weather put most farming activity on hold. Below-normal temperatures, cloudy days, and wet conditions slowed small grain growth. Many pastures were extremely soggy. Fields began to dry somewhat but were still too wet for land preparation for spring planting. Soil moisture ranged from adequate to surplus. Cattle producers were trying to rebound from below-average conditions by providing extra energy supplements and additional hay. Winter grazing on small grains and winter pastures was very short with the recent cold weather and rain. Hay supplies were becoming short and prices were rising. Water supply problems arose with the freezing of ponds and water tanks. The pecan and cotton harvests were complete. Much winter wheat was lost to armyworms, but what survived was in fair to good condition.
Soil moisture levels were short to very short throughout the region. Conditions allowed producers to increase irrigation on small grains and pre-watering corn ground in preparation for spring planting. The conditions of wheat declined daily. Rangeland was in poor condition and wheat fields were unable to support continued grazing. Livestock producers continued to provide supplemental feed to livestock.