New Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Bt cotton refuge options were explained by an Arkansas producer who helped develop them.

Allen Helms points out that the refuge options were ironed out in negotiations between EPA, Monsanto and the National Cotton Council. He outlines them as follows:

1) The existing 20% sprayed option has an added requirement that all Bollgard fields must be within one mile of the refuge (from field border to field border). As in previous years, the 20% sprayed option means you plant 25 acres of conventional cotton as a refuge for every 100 acres of Bollgard cotton.

2) The previous 4% unsprayed option has been increased to 5% or five acres of unsprayed refuge for every 95 acres of Bollgard. This unsprayed refuge must be at least 150' wide (about 48 rows). To comply with the 5% unsprayed option, all Bollgard fields must be within one-half mile of the unsprayed refuge.

(Note: The unsprayed refuge cannot be treated with any cotton insecticide labeled for control of tobacco budworm, bollworm or pink bollworm.)

3) The 5% refuge may be placed inside or "embedded" in a larger field or field unit. This third option was added this year. The refuge may be treated with any insecticide used to treat the Bollgard field within the same 24 hours. The embedded refuge cannot be treated for bollworm, tobacco budworm or pink bollworm independently of the surrounding field.

"It is in the growers' best interest to practice good use of these insect management guidelines," points out Helms. "Cotton producers stand to lose the most if this technology becomes ineffective."