Grasshoppers break out — but not as copiously as in 2011
Grasshoppers such as these are causing problems in the agriculture sector across the state.
COLLEGE STATION -- After a dry winter, as expected, grasshoppers are becoming a problem, but they are not as severe or profuse as they were during the 2011 drought, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service expert.
As they were in 2011, this year’s grasshopper outbreaks are connected to drought conditions, said Dr. Allen Knutson, an AgriLife Extension entomologist of Dallas. From July through the fall, grasshoppers deposit their eggs 0.5 to 2 inches below the soil surface. On an average year, fungus and other diseases take a toll on egg survival, thereby reducing the first-generation grasshoppers that hatch in the spring.
But most of the fungi and diseases affecting egg survival depend upon moist conditions, so during a drought year, outbreaks are expected, Knutson said.
But the outbreaks this year -- at least so far -- have been spotty, he said.
“Though some areas have had good rains, which reduce grasshopper populations, others have not, and they’ll still have problems,” he said. “They are intense in some areas, while others don’t have any.”
Logan Lair, AgriLife Extension agent in Navarro County, northeast of Waco, reported, “Grasshoppers, grasshoppers, grasshoppers; they are back and with a vengeance. This is affecting hay production.”
Heath Lusty, AgriLife Extension agent in Lampasas County, north of Austin, reported that along with hot, dry, windy conditions, “grasshoppers are a serious issue in some parts of the county.”
In East Texas, where grasshopper infestations were especially severe in 2011, there was only one county reporting outbreaks in June, that of Rich Hirsch, AgriLife Extension agent in Henderson County, west of Tyler.
AgriLife Extension district reporters compiled the following summaries for the week of June 17-23:
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Southwest District, including Wilson, Gonzales, Guadalupe, and Bexar counties, reported conditions were generally warmer and drier than the week before, though some areas received 2 inches of rain. Crops were doing well, particularly irrigated crops, but even much of dryland corn and grain sorghum was expected to make a crop, with some above-average yields predicted. Hay producers were cutting Sudan, Klein, and coastal Bermuda grasses. Cattle were doing well on rangelands with very little supplementation. Grasshoppers were a severe problem in some pastures and gardens.
AgriLife Extension district reporters for the Coastal Bend District, including Karnes County, reported scattered showers in some areas, but hot days and windy weather dried out soils. In most instances, the rains came too little and too late to significantly impact row crop production. Corn and grain sorghum farmers were readying for harvest. Later-planted grain sorghum showed signs of stress and needed a rain soon. Producers continued to make hay in some areas. Pasture conditions improved, but were deteriorating quickly due to the high winds and temperatures. Grasshoppers in pastures and hay meadows reached treatable levels. Ponds remained low or dry in many counties.
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.