Producers applaud weed and pest districts on controlling hoppers in 2010
The grasshopper infestation during the 2010 summer was widespread and as bad or worse than all early predictions. The use of Dimlin and aerial spraying around the state was very effective on rangelands, but less than ideal on croplands according State Plant Health Director of USDA APHIS PPQ Slade Franklin.
“Both the federal and county run treatments were huge successes. There are very few examples of density counts above economic impact numbers after treatment on rangelands, which made up about 95 percent of the total treated area,” says Franklin. He adds that croplands were more challenging to treat, and the results weren’t always as desirable as those on rangelands.
Rancher Joe Reculusa of Johnson County agrees that his local weed and pest district did a good job planning and treating for the grasshopper this year.
“I give all the credit to not having many grasshoppers to the weed and pest district. They got on it early and signed people up and were pushing this starting way back in January. They also did a good job getting large plots of land together, preventing contamination from neighbors.
“They sprayed before the hatch occurred, and we had very few grasshoppers. But in the areas along the river where they didn’t spray they really showed up later, so the spraying did do some good,” notes Reculusa. He adds that producers in Johnson County paid 25 cents per deeded acre.
Fred Oedekoven of Campbell County also felt the spraying was very effective.
“Last year we were devastated by the grasshoppers. It was so bad our wildlife all either moved out or died over the winter and they completely stripped the leaves off all our alfalfa hay.
“I’m near Recluse and have sandy loam soil. This spring on the south slopes there were thousands of little hoppers, and when they sprayed they got a really good kill,” explains Oedekoven.
He adds that while he was originally skeptical of the idea of spraying a strip then leaving a strip untreated, he feels it was highly effective. “They really only sprayed half the total acreage, and I had some concerns about that. But it was very effective and worked.”
“I am very proud of the job our weed and pest district did. They got on top of things early and made sure everyone was in the program. They did a lot of work in Campbell County and it really showed.
“As far as I’m concerned the program saved all our hay and grass. I was feeding at this time a year ago. This was a good year in terms of moisture also, and not having the grasshoppers made it a tremendous year,” says Oedekovan.
“The infestation was very bad here. We sprayed twice with an airplane and also used chemigation,” explains Wheatland area farmer and rancher Juan Reyes. “It didn’t do us a lick of good. Or if it did do some good I couldn’t tell because there were just so many hatches in Platte County. We may have had some good kills followed by another hatch.”
Reyes says the end result included some lost crops and a reduction in tons per acre of hay produced. “We are figuring we lost between half and one ton per acre on alfalfa hay,” he says.
“It was very tough, but Slade Franklin and all the guys at our county weed and pest district worked their hearts out trying to do whatever they could with the irrigated land. Wyoming Director of Ag Director Jason Fearneyhough secured some funds for help with cost sharing on irrigated acres also. Everyone worked really hard to try to control them, that wasn’t the issue,” explains Reyes.
He adds Platte County had the perfect spring for killing young grasshoppers. “I was told a cool, wet spring would kill most hatches. We had that, and it was the worst year for grasshoppers I’ve seen since the 1980s. We even saw hoppers at elevations over 6,500 feet, which is kind of scary.
“Surely we will run out of their cycle pretty quick. I hope that next year we can come up with a chemical that is longer lasting for crops and that we don’t suffer the losses we did this year,” comments Reyes.
Heather Hamilton is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.