Grasshoppers Are Becoming A Bigger Issue

Aug 04, 2021

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On top of the drought, farmers, and ranchers across the Prairies are now dealing with grasshoppers.

James Tansey, Saskatchewan's Insect Pest Management Specialist says there are four different types of grasshoppers showing up in the Province, two-striped, packards, migratory and clearwing.

He notes each of these are having minor outbreaks in different portions of the province.

"We've got relatively good growing conditions in the northeast, relatively good growing conditions in the southeast, but relatively dry conditions, and very dry conditions in parts of the province. So this is really helping these grasshoppers along. There's a fair bit of spray going down, and some economic damage associated with these grasshopper populations in different parts of the province."

In the last few weeks Montana producers have been seeing a big problem.

"One of the big issues with Montana seems to be migratory grasshoppers. So I mean, we're at the northern edge of the range of that one. The reason they call it migratory grasshopper is because it migrates, obviously, and it can fly great distances and in big numbers. It's been picked up on radar, and it's descending on production areas down there in big numbers. All through the American plains."

Tansey says most of the reports (in Saskatchewan) that we're getting are from two straight grasshoppers, and that seems to be through the bulk of the province.

"This one can also engage in migratory behaviour, but it's less likely to do so than the migratory grasshopper. There's areas in the southwest where the crops are pretty stressed from dry conditions. So this coupled with grasshopper pressure is becoming an issue. We're getting a lot of reports in central regions and in the northeast about localized grasshopper pressure. I think that's probably an important point, as well, we do have localized outbreaks, but it isn't, you know, a wholesale province wide problem at this point. I do have some concerns about continued dry conditions, particularly if they continue into next year and for population increase. But at this point in Saskatchewan the populations and the problems tend to be relatively localized."

One producer in the southeast corner of the province reported a significant issue with grasshoppers, noting they sprayed fields three times and spent close to $60,000 to try and protect the crops.

Tansey notes there are apparent shortages of control products.

"The products that are registered for control of grasshoppers in a number of different crops seem to be in relatively short supply. And it seems there are supply chain issues associated with COVID from Asia and other factors that are working their way into this."

He encourages producers to know the specie that you're dealing with, as different species have different feeding preferences.

"So, the Two-stripe tends to like more lush plants, clear winged grasshopper is primarily a grass feeder, it can be an occasional draw problem in flax. Also be aware of your thresholds, for most crops 10 to 12 per square meter is your economic threshold or your action threshold on these animals. Other crops are more sensitive, lentils and flax in the bolt stage, two per square meter. So those are probably the two most important points, know your species and you can gauge your risk based on that; and be aware of your thresholds and where your populations actually standing."

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