Boll Weevills officially gone from Louisiana cotton fields

    In just a few weeks, Stephen Logan will plow these North Caddo Parish fields for another season of cotton-growing.  For decades, cotton farmers' livelihoods were seriously threatened.     'It' is the boll weevil.  It ruined entire cotton crops -- damaging the plant from the inside out.

"It takes the fruit off so the plant didn't make any cotton," said Logan.

    Former cotton farmer and licensed agriculture consultant, Gordon Boogaerts, remembers just how bad it got.

"I was checking these fields for the pest.  You'd wake up in the middle of the night with nightmares thinking about the boll weevil," said Boogaerts.

    In 1998, the Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Department established the Boll Weevil Eradication Program.  While scientists researched the insect, farmers sprayed with new chemicals.  However, new traps use a pheromone that attracts the pest.

"As they became fewer and fewer weevils they were attracted to that pheromone and you could capture them," said Logan.

    Back then, a trap caught hundreds each day.  Now, the state is free of the insects.

"Louisiana is fully eradicated," said  Logan.

    As cotton farmers prepare for the next planting season, they'll be assured of one less obstacle standing in their way of a successful crop this year.

"It took a lot of effort by a lot of people to keep them under control, but now we're worried about other things," said Boogaerts.

    If not for the success of the eradication program, there may not be any cotton in Caddo Parish.  A field without boll weevils means a bright future for cotton farmers.

"Certainly more profitable, and a lot less effort and chemical expenditure," said Boogaerts.

    The commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry hopes to build an emergency fund that would be used to combat any future re-infestation.

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