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Agricultural News

The Rise of Sugarcane Aphids in Sorghum Presents a Major Headache for Growers

Wed, 24 Feb 2016 05:43:57 CST

The Rise of Sugarcane Aphids in Sorghum Presents a Major Headache for Growers Sugarcane Aphids have captured the attention of farmers, extension specialists and researchers with their rapid emergence and potential for major damage to the US grain sorghum crop. This is a new pest in sorghum that has been spreading across sorghum producing states. Oklahoma State University Extension Entomologist Tom Royer said over the last two to three years the problem has erupted. Last year the problem exploded in impacting nearly half of the United States. Royer said sugarcane aphids affected 35 plus counties in Oklahoma, basically any county with sorghum. He has never seen a pest come on the scene this quick and be this much of a problem in causing immense damage and yield loss. He said the last time many farmers have seen an outbreak like this was when greenbug moved into sorghum in the 1960s.

Royer and other researchers are scrambling for answers for farmers. OSU is trying to determine which sorghum varieties are resistant and susceptible to sugarcane aphids. Royer said this year OSU will be sampling fields for sugarcane aphid populations in trying to determine the economic impact of the aphid, as well as threshold levels for treatment. Royer said that will help farmers determine at what level it will be worth the expense of treatment to maximize yield potential.

Researchers are also looking at treatment options with different insecticides. One challenge is that there aren't many effective insecticides that are registered for sorghum. Royer said producers have a few tools available for control, but have found some products like Lorsban and dimethoate are ineffective. In order to use one of the products, he said they have to request an exemption annually for use in sorghum, as the product does not have a federal registration. Researchers at OSU and other institutions across the country are trying to get answers as fast as possible.

As the 2016 planting season approaches, OSU has several planned research activities. OSU will be releasing details on some of the most susceptible varieties and some varieties that will delay the aphid impact. He mentioned one of the most popular varieties in Oklahoma is very susceptible to aphids. He said those details will be released in the near future.

Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays interviewed Royer about the impact of sugarcane aphids. Click or tap on the LISTEN BAR below to listen to the full interview.



Ron Hays talks with OSU's Tom Royer about the Sugarcane Aphid
right-click to download mp3


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