Commercial cotton growing in the Sudan dates from 1867. At present, about 400,000 ha of various cotton cultivars are grown under different irrigation systems. The production of this main cash crop has been faced with a multitude of entomological and pathological problems, some of which were tackled through the adoption of specific cultural practices or enforcement of legislative regulations.
When cotton treatment with synthetic organic insecticides was initiated in the mid 1940s against Empoasca lybica de Berg, the impressive preliminary results have encouraged over-reliance on chemical control at the expense of other measures. This rather limited approach of control strategy has contributed partially to the appearance of new pests in damaging levels e.g. Heliothis armigera (Hbn.), Bemisia tabaci (Genn), Aphis gossypii (Glov) and Spodoptera littoralis. The principal measure for their control is insecticide application.
The cost of crop protection soared to ten-fold during the last 20 years. The annual number of sprays applied to cotton increased from one to seven sprays. To overcome the ever increasing use and high costs of pesticides on cotton growing, the Agricultural Research Corporation undertook intensive research programmes to find answers to major crop protection problems. Since 1978 researchers are directing their efforts towards the development and implementation of integrated pest management strategies to include cultural and legislative measures, as well as the use of more selective insecticides.