MENNO, S.D. (KELO) — As farmers hope for rain, there is another threat they may be dealing with. At first glance it might look like hail damage, but it’s actually from grasshoppers.
Mitch Mehlhaf, a farmer and agronomist with Prosper Ag near Menno, says he’s never seen grasshoppers take over fields quite like this.
“I’ve only heard about grasshoppers and stories from my grandfather from the mid to late 30s. Something we’ve never seen even in previous dry years,” he said.
Mehlhaf says the grasshoppers have caused 60-70% defoliation in the corn’s leaves and destroyed four to six acres on the edges of the field.
“They took all the reproductive parts off of the corn plant. Chewed down into the ear a ways. This corn won’t yield anything,” he said.
Mehlhaf says the insects are hard to control, especially when it is this dry, further depleting yields.
“We had about 50% of our normal yields last year on corn and soybeans. This year, going into the year with even less subsoil moisture, we’re looking at 10-25% of normal proven yields,” he said.
Scott Nusz, farmer and crop insurance agent also near Menno, says the area has only gotten around six inches of rain this year.
“16-18 inches would be normal, but you know, six and a half inches of rain is not going to cut it for the year,” he said.
Nusz knows crop insurance claims will be high.
“I would say we’re going to have 100% claims on corn pretty well. Every guy is going to be filing a claim. There is a lot of silage being cut right now,” he said.
Nusz says having crop insurance is very important, even though it is costly.
“We’ve been using the crop insurance probably five to six times the last 10 years from 2012. We use crop insurance quite often down here. We have some extreme weather,” he said.
And while crop insurance takes off some of the stress, the burden doesn’t go away entirely.
“Relying on your faith, and relying on your family, and hopefully having some hobbies that are off the farm and not dedicating 100 percent of your life to working is a great way to cope with the stress,” Mehlhaf said.
Mehlhaf says most of his crop damage caused by the drought and insect infestation will be covered by crop insurance.
There are resources you can use if you’re feeling stressed as a farmer. You can call the Avera Farm and Rural Stress Hotline at 1-800-691-4336.