County of Stettler hears grasshoppers may not be problem in 2022

·3 min read

The County of Stettler Ag Services Board (ASB) heard that grasshoppers probably won’t be a big problem in the municipality in 2022.

The report was provided by municipal and provincial government staff at the Dec. 9 regular ASB meeting.

The ASB board is comprised of county councillors and is chaired by Coun. Les Stulberg.

Coun. Dave Grover attended by teleconference.

Board members read a report submitted by Quinton Beaumont, Manager of Agricultural Services and forwarded by Shelley Barkley of Alberta Agriculture titled “Alberta crop insect update 2021.”

A summary at the beginning of the report stated, “Lygus bugs were a major pest in canola through much of the province.

Flea beetle numbers were high going into the fall and some control measures were used at the late pod stage to protect what yield was there.

Diamondback moth and bertha armyworm were not an issue in 2021.

Although not new, wheat stem sawfly damage was found as far north as Hwy. 9 and the cutting damage in its traditional area is over 65 per cent.

New finds of the lily leaf beetle continue as it moves around the province.

Spotted Wing Drosophila was detected at four localities in Alberta.”

While discussing oilseed pests, Barkley’s report stated, “Lygus bugs were a concern as high numbers of the insect were found at podding. Producers and crop advisors struggled with the decision to control the pest in heat and drought stressed crops, debating whether to salvage every bushel or abandon failing crops.

"Hot and dry conditions in late spring allowed populations to explode and migrate to canola during flowering.”

Addressing cereal pests Barkley’s report stated, “Wireworm (Elateridae) continues to be a difficult problem for many producers.

While the serious problems continue in southern Alberta, reports of wireworm and wireworm issues are showing up further north each year.

“There is no monitoring program for wireworms, so we rely on communications from producers and agronomists. 2021 was the first growing season for a new insecticide seed treatment in cereals, it remains to be seen if recent new chemicals will reduce the wireworm problems in Alberta.”

Grass and pasture pests

Discussing grass crops and pasture pests, Barley’s report noted, in part, “Two-striped grasshopper, Melanoplus bivitattus, increased in abundance in 2021 across southern Alberta, with hot spots of over 100 per square metre in areas near Carmangay, Skiff, Foremost, Lethbridge and east to the Saskatchewan border.

“Variability also increased, hot spots were separated by large areas with no Melanoplus bivitattus to be found. The fungal disease, E. grylli, a common sight in some areas, killed thousands in southern Alberta in 2021.

Two-striped grasshopper is expected to increase in numbers and range in 2022.

“Packard’s grasshopper remains much lower and more restricted to roadsides near grass and hay.”

As for horticulture Barkley’s report noted, “The Lily Beetle, Lilioceris lilii, has continued its spread throughout the province with a distribution that ranges from Gibbons, Onoway and Bruderheim in the north-central to Leslieville and Cochrane in the west, to Vegreville, Drumheller and Lloydminster in the east, and to Lethbridge and Brooks in the south.”

During discussion Beaumont stated the report didn’t cite anything big as far as pests coming out of the Stettler region. The biggest concerns seem to be in the Lethbridge/Strathmore region and parts further north.

Board members discussed grasshoppers and the feeling that if Stettler County gets another summer of drought, grasshoppers could become a serious problem.

Beaumont conceded that is one theory, but added that another theory is that grasshopper populations run on a seven-year cycle, and Stettler County is still two years away from the peak of that cycle, so it’s possible grasshoppers may not be a critical concern in the municipality in 2022.

As they discussed grasshoppers, board members noted it does seem grasshoppers need some time to build up numbers to a "devastating” level.

Board members accepted the 2021 pest report for information.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review

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