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JACKSON, Tenn. — Tennessee cotton producers will probably spend the recent increase in cotton prices on more pesticides to control boll weevils, a University of Tennessee cotton specialist said Tuesday.

Dr. Owen Gwathmey, assistant professor of cotton physiology at the UT experiment station here, said prices for cotton in the range of 72 cents per pound might mean increased profits if not for the boll weevil.

”The boll weevil has been a persistent cotton pest all season, and our trap counts are still quite high,” Swathmey said. With every pesticide application, production costs increase.

”The price increase will just provide most producers a comfort zone as they decide whether they can afford another application or two of pesticide,” Gwathmey said.

While Tennessee producers have been spared most of the weather problems experienced by growers in the two largest cotton states — Texas and California — boll weevils have been a headache, Gwathmey said.

A relatively mild winter, which allowed many boll weevils to survive, gave the cotton pest a head start this season, Gwathmey said.