What started as a small presence has now demolished once luscious hemp fields. IND HEMP grower Julia Meissner has been shown no mercy from the grasshoppers on her field. Once only chewing on the bottom of the crop, the grasshoppers soon made their way up the crop, resulting in complete devastation.
“It’s just sticks—60 acres of just sticks,” Meissner says. “We are definitely seeing the dollar signs disappear. … In 14 years, I’ve never seen grasshoppers like this.”
The remainder of her plot is still green thanks to her irrigation pivots but where the pivots don’t reach, its acres and acres of brown.
Controlling these pests come with its own challenges, even when on a conventional field. Insecticides aren’t necessarily an option either. Grasshoppers have a thick exoskeleton, limiting control options. Hemp only has 36 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved pesticides, making it nearly impossible to control these insects through chemical options.
The Meissners aren’t the only one of our growers seeing damage. Almost all of our growers’ fields have been impacted by grasshoppers in various degrees. Due to the weather conditions in Montana this year, grasshoppers came in swarms making their home the hemp fields. We can only hope that next year is better.