Dry weather helps pests flourish, damage crops

Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 6:32 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) -Pests are no stranger to central Nebraska crops in the summertime. But with the much drier conditions, and even drought in some areas, fields are seeing some pests that are slightly less common emerge and thrive in these conditions.

At the start of the season, the dry weather allowed for the perfect climate for grasshoppers, beetles, and other pests to breed and spread.

“Whenever it’s dry they just do better because there are not as many diseases that will affect them and particularly the little grasshoppers,” said Ron Seymour, Adams County Extension Educator. “If it’s real wet when they first hatch out then a lot of them drown or get these diseases and so they’re just doing better.”

In some areas near Guide Rock, the Adams County Extension has seen extensive defoliation by grasshoppers. In the western part of the county, the less common spider mites are flourishing on the corn leaves.

“When we have a lot of rainfall it tends to wash them off of the plants and also they are not as many predators to feed on them so people should be out looking for them now,” Seymour said.

Right now many farmers are spraying for the insects they can deal with. The invasive Japanese Beetle has also made an appearance in the Hastings area for the first time after making its way across the state. Various other beetles have been appearing in home gardens as well and there isn’t much that can be done.

Insects aren't the only impact crops are faced with this year. With the drought some of the non-irrigated crops are suffering and the wind is battering across central Nebraska.

“We saw a lot of green snap in our corn. The plants were just at the right stage where they were susceptible,” Seymour said. “I have a field right here [Hastings] where I only see about 1 percent but there are fields that were further west of Hastings where I saw about 40 percent.”

The extension office suggests farmers look into seeds for stronger stalks. Otherwise, it is a loss this year for the grower. They also urge farmers to get out into their fields and look for a wide variety of pests and see how they are impacting their crops and if they see something they should contact them for some assistance.

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