The heat and drought are no doubt a headache for Utah farmers — and now an invasion of grasshoppers is adding to their plight.
Some farmers in Box Elder County question whether there’s anything they can do to stop it. The invading grasshoppers are already adults, so they’re always on the move and hard to spray. Farmers say they’ll run out of water anyway.
It’s a bad combination that, for many, is leading to a bleak harvest.
“We first noticed them like the end of May, you know?” Royce Larsen said. “They were just tiny, started hatching.”
Farmers know there will be good years and bad. But there aren’t many years quite like this.
“Between the hoppers and the drought … it’s bad,” Larsen said.
He is among the farmers in the area who say these pests hatched early and in big numbers, making it tough to get on top of the problem.
“We’ve seen kind of a perfect, terrible storm with the drought that we’re facing right now,” Josh Dallin said.
Dallin is part of the faculty for livestock and range at the Utah State University Extension. He said he’s seen about 35 ranches across the county all dealing with only a fraction of the hay they’d normally produce.
Larsen expects to have less than 20% of the hay they’d normally produce.
“People think farmers are crazy and we all should be gone,” Larsen said. “But somebody has to produce food, whether they like it or not.”
Farmers will have to hold out for better luck next year and hope a cold winter will kill off the eggs these grasshoppers leave behind.
Farmers can get pesticide to spray for the grasshoppers, through cost-sharing program at the Utah Department of Agriculture.
The trouble is, Larsen said, they still have to pay for the application and, at this point in the season, it’s a gamble as to whether it will help them save any crops.