Cotton plants may look beautiful in private home landscapes but Louisiana must monitor all planted cotton for boll weevil presence, including cotton grown for ornamental purposes.

Todd Parker, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry assistant commissioner for the Office of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said state boll weevil eradication laws provide that anyone who wants to plant cotton for non-commercial purposes must receive prior permission from the commissioner of agriculture and forestry.

“We need to know where all the cotton plants are located throughout the state to monitor for the boll weevil and protect Louisiana’s cotton industry,” Parker said. “The LDAF places traps in all cotton fields every year to check for the presence of boll weevils.”

Parker said an increasing number of gardeners outside of traditional cotton growing areas are planting cotton to add interest to their garden landscapes. Others plant small plots for fiber to spin their own thread for weaving. The LDAF must place a boll weevil trap at all these locations, Parker said.

Historically, the boll weevil has been cotton’s most destructive pest. All cotton-growing states have eradication programs.

Cotton remains one of Louisiana’s leading crops and was worth more than $134 million to the state in 2008. That figure declined in 2009 due to extremely wet weather during the harvest. The 2009 numbers totaled more than 225,000 acres harvested with the total value of the cotton sector estimated to be $130.2 million.

For more information regarding planting non-commercial or ornamental cotton, please contact the Louisiana Boll Weevil Eradication Program office at (225) 952-8105.