Grasshopper Populations Rising

Due in part to the high numbers of grasshoppers last summer combined with the mild winter, growers in the Northern Plains and Pacific Northwest are beginning to see an increase in numbers of grasshoppers that have potential to cause significant damage to their cropland.

“As grasshopper populations continue to rise, insecticides are a valuable management component to protect vulnerable wheat and barley crops,” says Roy Boykin, Syngenta insecticide technical brand manager. “Warrior II with Zeon Technology has been proven to significantly reduce the impact of insects, including grasshoppers, by delivering quick pest knockdown and long-lasting control.”

Farmers and ranchers can track the status of grasshopper populations through an interactive map on the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) site. Scientists have been on alert following the release of the APHIS 2010 Grasshopper Forecast, which reported that unusually high populations of adult grasshoppers in late summer indicated the likelihood of a large number of eggs being laid. Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are expected to be hardest hit, but states in the Pacific Northwest are also on alert.

“In Washington, 451,000 acres of land had a grasshopper density higher than eight grasshoppers per square yard in 2009, up from 67,000 acres in 2006,” says Richard Zack, associate professor of entomology at Washington State University. “We’ve been preparing for the worst grasshopper infestation in 30 years.”

Large populations of grasshoppers are a significant threat because they can eat half of their own body weight in a single day. They can also use wind currents to travel 30 to 50 miles per day in search of food according to research done by the USDA. Last year grasshoppers accounted for around 7,000 square acres of lost grassland in southeastern Oregon, an area not accustomed to high infestation.

By using tools like the APHIS monitoring system, scouting, and applying Warrior II with Zeon Technology when grasshoppers reach threshold levels, wheat and barely growers can protect their crops from these voracious feeders.

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