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Agriculture Today

Grasshopper problems likely to get worse

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Robert Burns
August 1, 2012 | 3,725 views | Post a comment

COLLEGE STATION -- If you’ve got grasshopper problems now, you’re probably going to continue to have them until this fall, said a Texas AgriLife Extension Service entomologist.

Grasshoppers are long-lived; they’re with us most of the summer, and growers are still battling them, said Dr. Allen Knutson, AgriLife Extension entomologist, Dallas.

Some producers have already had to re-treat two or three times to protect crops, Knutson said.

And because grasshoppers thrive in hot weather, the problems they pose to crops will likely get worse before they get better, he said.

“As we get into the hot, dry summer, more and more of their wild host plants --- weeds and wild grasses -- dry up, and that forces them into our crops, especially irrigated fields,” he said.

High grasshopper populations are tied to drought for a number of reasons, according to Knutson. The first grasshopper hatch was earlier than normal because spring warmed up sooner than normal. And because many areas had a dry winter, a fungus, Entomophthora grylli, that usually causes high grasshopper mortality was not as prevalent in many areas.

He noted that if producers in a particular area didn’t have an early grasshopper population boom, they’re unlikely to see one later in the summer. Though grasshoppers live two months or after they reach the adult stage, they are homebodies, rarely traveling more than a few miles from where they were hatched.

Robert Burns has nearly 30 years’ experience writing about agriculture and agricultural-related research. He writes about Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service activities at the Overton Center and centers in Stephenville and Temple.

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