Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/1/2005
Publication Date: 1/30/2006
Citation: Hughs, S.E., Armijo, C.B., Staten, R.T. 2006. Boll weevil kill rates by gin processing and bale compression. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 22(1):45-50. Interpretive Summary: The boll weevil is an important cotton pest that has been largely eliminated from many parts of the cotton belt. It was unknown whether this pest could survive and be transported in cotton bales to weevil-free areas of the U.S. or world and cause an infestation. Research was done that determined that adult boll weevils could not survive in full-weight universal density (UD) cotton bales. The UD bale is the standard cotton bale package for the US cotton industry. Thus, it was concluded that the normal UD bale, as produced in the U.S., could not serve as a vehicle for boll-weevil transport or infestation.
Technical Abstract: The boll weevil has been eradicated over much of the U.S. cotton production area. However, there are still cotton production areas that are infested with the boll weevil. USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has procedures in place to keep the weevil from being reintroduced to the U.S. eradicated areas as well as being transported overseas and infesting cotton growing areas in other countries. Part of the procedure includes fumigation of baled cotton prior to shipment. Methyl Bromide may not be available as a fumigant in the near future and the fumigation process is expensive. Research was done at the USDA, ARS, Southwestern Cotton Ginning Research Laboratory to determine the actual re-infestation risk from live boll weevils processed through the normal cotton ginning and baling systems in the U.S. Two tests were done, 1) a gin process survival test, and 2) a bale compression survival test. No live weevils were found to survive being processed through a saw gin stand and one saw-type lint cleaner. In addition, most weevils were immediately killed at compressions of 22 lb/ft3 and higher. There were also no survivors after six days at the specified UD bale density of 28 lb/ft3. Test results showed it was extremely unlikely that a live boll weevil could survive both gin processing and bale compression.