By Josh Margolis
MALTA, Mont. (NMB) – Local officials are once again sounding the alarm that the grasshopper problem Montana producers are facing is not showing any signs of coming to an end.
Phillips County Extension Agent Marko Manoukian says that combined with the ongoing drought, the issue of grasshopper infestations will continue to have severe impacts.
“One would be seed shortages. Mostly the small grains, peas, lentils. They all undertook drought conditions and then some were wiped out by grasshoppers. So I already know there is a winter wheat seed shortage. Barley seed is going to be expensive. And I think trying to find lentil and pea seeds could be difficult. Obviously growers would have some of those. But even the seed quality is affected by drought and grasshoppers. Just a smaller amount of them. And then usually smaller seed size. That’s impactful for next year’s planting. So one more year of those kind of conditions could just be really disastrous for our agriculture producers.”
Another problem this year is that USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) does not have any money available for cost sharing for rangeland treatment in the western U.S. Last year, upwards of $1 million was allocated.
“It was pretty short for the amount of grasshoppers we had last year … That wasn’t going to be enough and it clearly wasn’t. And it is an undertaking to try and get that many planes contracted and all the paperwork done so that growers can get some help or relief spraying rangeland. That’s what that program is. It’s only rangeland. So state rangelands, BLM rangelands, and private rangelands. It does nothing for crops. For crops, there are insecticides that producers can look towards to try to mitigate the impacts of grasshoppers.”
Anyone concerned about the impact of grasshoppers on their production is urged to contact their local Extension office.
Part 1 and 2 of New Media Broadcaster’s interview with Manoukian is below.
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