The hot, dry conditions in many areas have meant that grasshoppers have been a key challenge for producers again this year.

Conventional farmers and organic producers have seen significant damage from grasshoppers over the last couple of years.

Marla Carlson, the executive director of Sask Organics says they did a grasshopper survey this year between June 30th and July 16th to try and gauge the impact.

"We asked about 2022, and also their projections for 2023. We found that there's a significant concern both with a reduction in production as well as financial losses."

Carlson talked about the survey which involved 51 organic producers during the organic and low-input field day in Swift Current.

She pointed out that some organic producers say the grasshopper damage last year and this year could be the last straw for their operations, two respondents have already dropped their organic certification. 

She says grasshopper control or management is quite different in organic operations compared to conventional production as the use of those control products are not allowed under the organic certification licence.

"Many farmers are growing crops around the edges of the main crop to try to reduce the grasshopper damage. The crops that they're finding that are working well for that are peas. So some farmers are planting just peas, and others are planting mixes of peas or peas and oats.  Some farmers are also experimenting with some of the cover crop mixes to try and put in these zones to try and control the grasshoppers in their fields."

Carlson says there are other options, a popular one was Nolo bait which seemed to be somewhat effective,  but their factory burned down.

Respondents for the organic grasshopper survey came mainly from the drier areas of the province the southwest and west-central area where the grasshopper population has been increasing.

In 2022, producers reported seeing crop losses of less than 10 per cent but noted they expected to see larger losses this year, 65 percent reporting losses of more than 10 percent; while 41 percent expect losses to be between 11 and 50 percent.

The majority of producers taking part in the survey reported having crop insurance, with about 65 percent expecting to file claims this year, that's up from the 32 percent that filed crop insurance claims last year.

She notes that 37 percent of respondents said despite filing for crop insurance they expected to lose less than $10,000, while 27 percent expect to see losses between $30,000 and $90,000 with 10 percent saying losses would be more than $210,000.

Dan Johnson a research scientist at the University of Lethbridge says work on control options is continuing.

Saskatchewan has a strong organic industry with 29 per cent of all land under organic management in Canada,  or just under 1.2 million acres.

Carlson says they've seen a 13 per cent growth since 2019 with just over 1000 organic operations, 938 organic producers, 24 livestock producers, and 110 organic handlers which includes small food manufacturers and grain buyers.

Overall, Saskatchewan has 686 thousand acres in field crops, 483 thousand in pasture and forage, 1500 acres in fruit and vegetable production, and 3200 acres in wild production such as wild rice,  etc.