Cotton IPM: A Quiet Revolution Reduces Costs, Losses and Risks for Arizona’s Cotton Growers

Research Year: 

During the mid-90s, insecticide applications in cotton typically accounted for about half of all insecticide use in the United States. In 1995, nearly 100 percent of Arizona’s cotton acreage was sprayed multiple times for pink bollworm Lygus bug and silverleaf whitefly. New technologies have enabled cotton growers to reduce their spray applications significantly while achieving among highest cotton yields worldwide. Behind only California and Australia, Arizona now produces the highest-yielding cotton in the world, nearly 1,500 pounds of fiber per acre, far exceeding the U.S. national average of about 800 pounds per acre. These technologies also help growers implement more ecologically-based, sustainable IPM programs and become less dependent on broadly toxic insecticides.

Description of Action: 

An integrated pest management program (IPM) established in Arizona in 1996, refined in 2006 and continued through today uses insect growth regulators (IGRs—effective against whiteflies), transgenic cotton (with Bt—Bacillus thuringiensis—effective against pink bollworms), and a reduced-risk feeding inhibitor (effective against Lygus bugs.) Safe for humans, these tools kill only their target pests, allowing natural processes to play a larger role in the management of all other pest insects. Growers have been taught to deploy fully selective materials first and whenever possible. The UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences initiated the program in collaboration with growers, USDA, Arizona Department of Agriculture, Arizona Cotton Growers’ Association, Cotton Incorporated, Arizona Cotton Research & Protection Council, industry and others.


The fully implemented, collaborative cotton IPM program has registered significant gains since its inception in 1996:

Conact Name: 
Peter Ellsworth
Contact E-mail: