That really does have something to do with this blog. but beyond all else, I just like that name. Not so much I’d name a son Boll Weevil although that wouldn’t be the weirdest name I’ve ever heard.
Boll weevils aren’t native to Texas; it’s believed that they came up from Central America through Mexico in the late 19th century. Since then, they’ve played havoc with the cotton crops of the south.
The National Cotton Council estimates that the boll weevil has cost U.S. cotton producers more than $13 billion since entering from Mexico a century ago (National Cotton Council, 1994). There’s a Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation which studies the insects and devises schemes to eliminate them.
Lime green weevil traps are used in conjunction with spraying. I have a friend who places these traps during weevil season. They caught about half a million weevils in my part of the state using these traps.
An artificial pheromone similar to the pheromone that male weevils release is contained in the collection chamber of the trap to attract girl weevils along with an insecticide strip that kills them. My friend checks the traps every couple of weeks and counts the dead bodies. That way the Foundation can determine the effectiveness of the program.
Since I started doing genealogy research, I discovered that my family has counted on cotton crops as much as old boll weevil and for a much longer time period. That’s mostly my mom’s side of the family since my dad’s side were goat ranchers and sheep herders. In fact, my grandparent’s generation is the first one that took flight from the farms.
Cotton used to be picked by hand. Considering how miserably hot it has been this summer, I can’t imagine what it would have been like to pick the cotton. Mother and her siblings did not do much picking except as a way to be out of their parents’ hair when they were in the country. My grandparents weren’t that lucky. After all, Grandma was one of 17 kids so I’m pretty sure picking cotton was in her adolescent job description.
Fred Roberts, the president of the South Texas Cotton Growers Association, said in 1920: We pick cotton like we did a hundred years ago and we chop cotton like we did a hundred years ago, with the exception that we put it into a sack now where we used to put it in a basket.
What a hard life! I imagine she jumped at the chance to go to teacher college and spend 11 months a year as a travelling school marm.
I spent the drive to Skidmore thinking about that life as I looked at the acres and acres of fields post-harvest. Skidmore is a tiny town between Sinton and Beeville which means nothing to you if you don’t live in South Texas. There was a waterline job bidding there today so I drove the bid over.
A cotton bale weighs 500 lbs and can make 215 pairs of jeans, 249 bed sheets, 690 bath towels, 1,217 men’s t-shirts, or 313,600 dollar bills. That’s from a blurb we saw in Luling last week.
In a good year, the yield is about 2 bales of cotton per acre. Texas is the leading cotton-producing state with a 3 year average of 6.2 billion bales of cotton. Since a bale of cotton can make 2,419 men’s undershorts, that’s a whole bunch of Fruit of the Loom.
The cotton plant itself has changed over the years. 50 years ago it was considerably taller than the smaller, compact, higher yielding plants of today. I know that because I stopped by the Blackland Museum in Taft to see what information they might have about cotton farming in south Texas.
The little museum warehouses a considerable amount of San Pat County history. I even discovered genealogy information since the museum building once was the office for the Coleman-Fulton Cattle Company. As the great great grand-daughter of the Coleman part, I’ve always wondered about our connection to that land venture. A future trip to the museum is in my plans since the curator has volumes of paperwork and information about my Coleman ancestry.
The trip back to Portland was exciting because we finally got the rain that skies had been promising all day. It seems like forever since I used my windshield wipers to swipe off rainfall! It hasn’t been that long, but it has been more than 60 days. Trees are losing their leaves because of heat exhaustion, not cold. The week-end promises triple digits which hasn’t been happening on the coast. Most of the state has been enduring 105+ temperatures for months.
I see a lot of glass cutting and crafting in my week-end plans. Way too hot for much else!