Steps to Managing the Sugarcane Aphid in Grain Sorghum
The sugarcane aphid, first discovered in grain sorghum late in the 2013 growing season, is capable of causing substantial damage to the crop if left unmanaged. However, with timely management, its effects can be minimized.
To protect sorghum from potential early season infestations, Brent Bean, Sorghum Checkoff agronomist, advises growers to consider planting seeds treated with an insecticide seed treatment.
"Any of the commonly used insecticide treatments such as Poncho, Cruiser and Gaucho are effective and should give up to 40 days of sugarcane aphid control," Bean said. "In addition, there are several commercial hybrids available that have some degree of tolerance to the sugarcane aphid that growers may want to consider."
Once sorghum has emerged, it is recommended to scout sorghum fields at least once a week for signs of the aphid. Once aphids are found, fields should be scouted 2-3 times a week. Sugarcane aphids excrete honeydew, a sticky, shiny substance on the lower leaves, which is often the first sign of a sugarcane aphid infestation.
Loss of plant sap, caused by the sugarcane aphids feeding on sorghum leaves, takes away nutrients from the plant that would otherwise be utilized for plant health and grain yield. Sugarcane aphid feeding, along with black sooty mold and other secondary diseases, eventually cause the leaves to turn yellow and die. The result is often uneven or lack of head emergence, poor grain set, and possibly an increase in lodging. A yield loss of up to 100 percent is possible if high aphid infestation levels occur prior to heading and are left untreated.Find out more