With unseasonably warm weather, changing crop patterns, and fewer applications for worms and other pests in desert vegetables, PCAs are reporting that grasshoppers have been appearing in larger than usual numbers.

Bill Fox says he’s seen considerably more grasshoppers on the 4,000 acres of lettuce and cole crops he scouts.

“Grasshoppers wouldn’t normally be a problem in a year that we’d have sprayed for armyworms. But armyworm eggs just didn’t hatch, so the next thing we knew, we had grasshoppers all around in some fields. They can be a real problem — they can eat a seedling lettuce field down to the ground.”

John Palumbo says he rececived several reports of damage to young seedling plants on newly established stands, and that PCAs were still battling high numbers on young stands as harvest was set to get under way.

“The high numbers have been attributed to the large amounts of rainfall during the monsoon season, above-average fall temperatures, and the increased production of grass crops, including sudangrass, small grains, and milo, this past spring and summer.”

PCAs were relying on insecticide baits and broad-spectrum insecticides, where necessary, to prevent yield losses.

“Overall damage has been low, but in some cases at above-average cost,” Palumbo says.

Other secondary pests, including buffalo treehoppers and striped flea beetles also were creating a minor problem in some fields as they migrated out of neighboring hay crops.