Soybean School: Grasshoppers don’t just eat cereal crops

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

When it comes to grasshoppers on the Prairies, the primary thought that comes to mind might be protecting cereals crops. But this hopping, destructive insect can cause issues in your soybean crop as well — and now is the time to begin looking for them.

In this episode of RealAgriculture’s Soybean School, John Gavloski, entomologist with Manitoba Agriculture, says that the questions in Manitoba have begun. When should you spray? What do thresholds look like? Is it too early to be controlling them?

Gavloski says with over 180 species of grasshoppers in Canada, these questions can be challenging to address. There are  four main grasshopper types in the Prairie region that are considered pests. Although they do have differences, they all go through the same life cycle.

“When they are young they are about the size of a wheat kernel. They have no functional wings that they can fly with,” he says, referring to a diagram in the video. “They go through five stages before they get their wings, become an adult, and can fly into the fields. Only when they are an adult do they have fully functional wings and can fly. That’s when they can really get into the field.”

The earlier you catch them in the field, the easier they become to control, Gavloski notes.

“Now’s a great time to to be looking for grasshoppers, because if there is a lot, then you can determine in these young stages, and control them before they can invade your field. And sometimes doing an edge spray is all you need to be doing. So it’s good to have a look at what you’ve got and the stages of them.”

Soybeans generally are a reasonably resilient crop, so it’s essential to keep an eye on what sort of feeding you see in the field before you start heading to the sprayer. Gavloski says that in soybeans, “you can get up to 40 per cent defoliation, and the plants will do just fine.”

To learn more about grasshoppers in your soybeans, check out the conversation between John Gavloski and Kara Oosterhuis, below:

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