Control grasshoppers now to reduce crop damage
Large numbers of grasshoppers are damaging crops in parts of Nebraska, so producers should be taking immediate control measures, said a University of Nebraska-Lincoln technologist.
Because vegetation is very succulent, grasshoppers will target alfalfa and soybeans; they'll feed on corn as well, said Research Technologist Dave Boxler of North Platte.
"We like to encourage producers to allow weeds and grass borders to grow rather than mowing or grazing them," Boxler said. "That creates what we call a trap crop. As long as that trap crop area is green, the grasshoppers will stay there, but as soon as it starts to brown, they will move into the fields."
Because of cool temperatures and plenty of moisture, the grasshoppers are younger than they were last year at this time. That's helpful because the younger they are, the easier they are to control, he said.
Right now is the time to target field borders and pastures if they're adjacent to fields. There are large numbers of grasshoppers in pastures and weedy borders, so producers should spray now. To get reasonably good control, spray a minimum of 300 feet into the pastures. Ideally, you would spray 1300 feet, but not everyone can do that.
A number of products are labeled for grasshopper control in crops, but only a few are approved for pastures. If you don't apply the right insecticide, you won't be able to graze the treated area.
Boxler suggested that producers contact their local extension offices or crop consultants to select an insecticide that's labeled for crop and rangeland grasshopper control.