Grasshoppers creating an economic crisis for southern Utah farmers

Posted at 10:12 AM, Aug 01, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-01 12:41:39-04

NEW HARMONY, Utah – Farmers in Southern Utah are taking an economic hit after grasshoppers ate through much of their crop.

Grasshoppers are an annual occurrence during summer months,  but many farmers like Gary Suppe of Little America Organic Orchard say they’ve been hit hard.

“They start at the lower portions of the trees and bushes, then they’ll all climb up, converge,” says Suppe. “They’ve come into my orchard, into my berries, into my windbreak trees. Killed some of them, devastated an awful lot of them.”

Suppe isn’t alone. Dozens of farmers are reporting losses. It’s due to drought conditions. When fields dry out, bugs search for food elsewhere. Unfortunately that means they had into crops.

“A good friend of mine, it completely destroyed, wiped out 100% of his strawberries,” says Suppe. “Now he’s trying desperately to get a second growth on that so he’ll have some produce to sell.”

Most have been able to get grants through the Utah Department of Agriculture for pesticides to battle the bugs. For organic farmers like Suppe, that’s a little more difficult. There is a hope for a second crop before the fall weather hits, but some are just cutting losses and hoping to make it until next year.

“In my fall varieties, I’m just starting to see some bees coming in because the grasshoppers have slowed down a little bit, and hopefully I’ll be able to get a little something in produce from my berries on the fall varieties,” says Suppe.

For more information on Little America Organic Orchard, click here: