Public Service and Agriculture

State cotton farmers to gather for boll weevil virtual meeting


South Carolina cotton farmers are invited to a virtual meeting slated for Wednesday, March 3, for updates on the Boll Weevil Eradication Program in the state.

Registration is required for this year’s annual meeting, which will include updates from the S.C. Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation, the Southeastern Boll Weevil Eradication Program and Clemson’s Extension, research and regulatory programs.

“The Boll Weevil Eradication Program is one of the most successful such efforts ever devised against an invasive agricultural pest. Cooperation among farmers and others in the cotton industry as well as researchers, regulatory officials and Extension professionals is key to that success,” said Steven Long, assistant director and state plant regulatory official in Clemson’s Department of Plant Industry. “We appreciate input from all who are involved in this extensive effort.”

Registration is required by Feb. 28. To register, send an email to Include your name, phone number and involvement in the cotton industry. A link will be provided upon registration.

The meeting begins online at 10 a.m. and will provide brief reports of activities associated with the South Carolina Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation (SCBWEF) program during the 2020 growing season with particular attention paid to any problems that need addressing. The board of directors will meet immediately following this meeting to discuss the South Carolina program budget, the 2021 assessment rate and the regional program expenses/progress and how they affect the state’s program.

For more information, contact the South Carolina Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation at, or (864) 646-2140.

When the boll weevil invaded the United States near the start of the 20th century, it crippled the American cotton industry. Farmers fought back with heavy doses of pesticides. But the Boll Weevil Eradication Program, first organized more than 30 years ago, combined coordinated pesticide applications with baited traps to methodically drive the insect back to Mexico.

An early warning system of weevil traps was established wherever cotton is grown — an essential precaution because boll weevils are highly mobile insects. The last boll weevil caught in South Carolina appeared in 1997, almost certainly a hitchhiker that took a ride on farm equipment coming from another state.

Re-infestation of the pest would be devastating to the economy. A traditional staple of the South Carolina economy, cotton is the state’s most valuable field crop and routinely covers 300,000 acres.

“The vigilance of the Boll Weevil Eradication Program is essential to protecting our cotton industry,” Long said. “Regular input from farmers and industry keeps it capable of defending against this pest.”