It came without warning. Prairie farmers were dealt the environmental version of poker’s 7-2 off-suit: drought conditions not seen in 20-plus years and a heat dome, which may become agriculture’s word of the year for all the wrong reasons.
It defies imagination. A biblical-scale plague of locusts an estimated 500,000 square kilometres in size swept across the U.S. Midwest and into parts of Western Canada in 1875. The ravenous insects ate virtually everything in their path from crops to cloth. Described as a living eclipse of the sun, it is believed to have been the largest insect swarm in recorded history. Perhaps even more extraordinary, within 25 to 30 years of this legendary natural event, the Rocky Mountain locust (Melanoplus spretus) was declared extinct.
Naturally, pest-infested grain will be discounted, but there are less obvious reasons creepy crawlers affect the marketing of your grain worldwide. Farmers and grain companies strive to deliver grain that has zero or very little insect content. However, much of Canada’s grain is exported and bugs, actual or imagined, worm their way into market access issues.