Prairies’ dry fields good, if you’re a grasshopper

(CanolaCouncil.org)

CNS Canada –– Dry conditions causing production concerns across large areas of Alberta and Saskatchewan are certainly bad for the crops, but the weather could prove ideal for grasshoppers.

Grasshopper forecast maps put out over the winter were not initially all that bad for Alberta and Saskatchewan, given the conditions in 2014, but weather in the spring and summer can alter the situation considerably.

“The fall survey did not pick up any really high numbers of grasshoppers… nothing that we would consider high risk for most crops,” said Scott Hartley, insect control specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture.

However, weather conditions now “are ideal for grasshoppers,” he said.

An extended fall in 2014 also allowed for high numbers of eggs, which have been hatching since late May, said Hartley. Grasshoppers were now becoming more mobile, he added, and producers should be monitoring their fields — especially in areas that are warm and dry.

While growing conditions for crops have been slow, “there is certainly enough plant growth for them to eat,” said Hartley.

Cool and wet weather would slow them down, but Hartley said a widespread event that would be detrimental for grasshoppers was unlikely and would also cause more significant crop problems for other reasons.

There are five immature stages leading up to an adult grasshopper, with grasshoppers in the third to fifth stages causing the most problems for crops, depending on how far along the fields are.

While the dryness is raising concerns over grasshoppers, it has slowed the development of wheat midge in those dry areas, as that pest needs a certain amount of moisture, said Hartley.

However, the southeastern corner of Saskatchewan has been on the wet side in recent years, and midge is poised to cause more problems in that area.

Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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