Source: South Dakota State University
Potato leafhoppers have been found in alfalfa in eastern parts of the state along I-29, according to Ada Szczepaniec, SDSU Extension Entomology Specialist.
"Now is definitely the time to scout for potato leafhoppers in alfalfa fields in South Dakota. Scouting is critical. Once you see symptoms of their damage, known as hopper burn, it is too late," Szczepaniec said.
Hopper burn, the characteristic V-shaped yellowing of the leaf tips, is caused by the toxic properties of saliva of these leafhoppers, which have piercing-sucking mouthparts. Potato leafhoppers have multiple generations per year, and while the first cutting of alfalfa is usually not affected, all later cuttings are at risk.
They are especially damaging to new seedlings. Heavy populations of potato leafhoppers can stunt the plants and significantly reduce the yield. Fields should be scouted every week following the first cutting of alfalfa.