A referendum on a proposal to begin the maintenance phase of the boll weevil eradication program in regions 1A and 1B of Mississippi failed to receive the required percentage of votes for approval.

441 votes (55 percent of the total) were cast for the proposal in Region 1A and 384 votes (58 percent) in Region 1B. Mississippi law requires that two-thirds of those voting favor a change in the BWEP before it can become effective. The votes were counted June 20.

Officials with the Mississippi Boll Weevil Management Corp., which oversees the eradication program, said they believe continued low prices being offered for cotton and wet conditions that have plagued the Mississippi Delta this spring contributed to the defeat.

The proposal would have extended the eradication program in regions 1A and 1B for 10 years with growers paying a maximum of $12 per acre per year. Officials said they expected the actual cost of the program to be lower.

“The board of directors will meet after the vote is certified by the Farm Service Agency and decide on a course of action,” a spokesman for the Mississippi Boll Weevil Management Corp. said.

The county-by-county vote in Region 1A: Leflore, 143 for, 112 against; Quitman, 76 for, 73 against; Sunflower 104 for, 80 against; Tallahatchie, 64 for, 88 against; Tunica, 54 for, 45 against. In Region 1B: Bolivar, 135 for, 49 against; Coahoma, 144 for, 145 against; Washington, 105 for, 92 against.

MBWMC officials said that boll weevil numbers have continued to decline statewide under the eradication program.

The total number captured in the state for the season (9,814) is 60 percent less and the number per acre is 88 percent less than in 2002. Only three boll weevils have been captured in east Mississippi's Region 4 this season.

“Hopefully overwintered emergence has peaked and the number of weevils captured each cycle will continue to decline,” says Farrell Boyd, Mississippi program manager.

The eradication program began in the Region 4 counties along the eastern edge of the state and moved across Mississippi to Regions 3 and 2. Regions 2, 3 and 4 have already entered the maintenance phase of the program.

Boyd said the percentage of fields that captured zero boll weevils ranged from 91.2 to 99.9 in the various work units and averaged 98.1 statewide for cycle 9. Thus far for the season, 93.5 percent of the fields have had zero (0) boll weevils captured.