Grasshopper Damage Results In Crop Loss

Grasshoppers have continued to wreak havoc in Richland County and the surrounding areas. They have damaged both cropland and rangelands, with varying severity depending on the area.

Cropland grasshopper damage has varied from defoliation to loss of field edges to total crop loss. Crop yields can be more directly affected as grasshoppers begin clipping off wheat heads. Producers have had to apply multiple insecticide applications to attempt to slow the progression of damage. Unfortunately, the majority of insecticide options for grasshoppers do not have a very long residual, meaning they do not remain effective on the application site for very long. This creates opportunities for grasshoppers to reinfest the crop even after an insecticide application has been made. Not only is yield being negatively affected by grasshopper destruction, but producers input costs per acre are dramatically increased when the insecticide must be applied multiple times.

Grasshoppers are also causing severe damage in rangelands. Grasshoppers negatively impact both the quality and quantity of rangeland plants. Often times they will begin by stripping the leaves of the plants. The majority of a plant's nutrients are in the leaves, therefore leaving a lower quality diet for our livestock to select from. As grasshopper pressure increases, they can remove entire sections of forage. Rangeland insecticide applications are not as common as cropland applications, as larger area treatments are more costly.

Now is the time that grasshoppers will start laying their eggs. This egg laying will extend into September. Grasshoppers lay their eggs in the soil, and they overwinter there and hatch in the spring. Where there are high densities of grasshoppers during this egg laying time frame, it is likely that populations will be high in those areas next spring.

USDA-APHIS is the provider of the Rangeland Grasshopper Suppression Program. This is a cost-share program on private, state, and federal lands. While it is too late for suppression efforts on rangelands this year, producers should be thinking about those areas with high densities now and start considering if there would be interest in the program for next year. There will be more information on this program to come this fall.


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