Sugarcane Aphid


Sugarcane Aphid Tracker

Source: Kansas State University's myFields Sugarcane Aphid Tracker.

2017 Management

The Sorghum Checkoff co-hosted the research exchange meeting with Dow AgroSciences and Bayer Crop Science to meet your needs and wants as sorghum producers. Early this year, researchers from across the country met to discuss their findings in relation to sugarcane aphid management.

Video Series

Below are seven videos that are part of our sugarcane aphid management series. The videos provide information received from the Sorghum - Sugarcane Aphid Research Exchange meeting held in January 2017. In the videos, agronomist Brent Bean, Ph.D., summarizes the research findings into best management practices and next steps for growers.

Sugarcane Aphid Biology
Tolerant vs. Susceptible Hybrids
When to Apply Insecticide
Insecticide Rates and Application
Control With Other Pests
Late Season Control
Integrated Pest Management and Best Management Practices

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Video Resources:
SCA Identification Training
SCA Identification Basics
SCA in Sorghum

Defense Against the Sugarcane Aphid booklet

sugarcane aphid bookletThe Sorghum Checkoff recently released the Defense Against the Sugarcane Aphid booklet in order to provide more information to growers. The goal of the document is to assist growers in effectively managing the pest to avoid yield and revenue loss. The 20-page document covers topics from identifying the pest and aphid effects to scouting and when to treat.
Downloadable PDF >>

The sugarcane aphid, Melanaphis sacchari, was discovered late in the 2013 growing season in the coastal sorghum regions. The sugarcane aphid is a new pest to the U.S. sorghum industry, and it is capable of causing substantial damage to the crop if left unmanaged. It is important for producers to be proactive and constantly scout for and monitor the pest because early detection is critical to minimize the aphid’s harmful effects.

Sugarcane aphids will only survive and multiply significantly in sorghum genotypes, including Johnsongrass, shattercane, sorghum-sudangrass, sudangrass, forage sorghum and grain sorghum. Sugarcane aphids will not survive on any of the major crops such as corn, cotton, soybeans or wheat. However, sugarcane aphids are distributed by the wind, so small colonies can be found in these crops, but at this time, they have not been found to be of economic importance.

Aphid Effects

Heavy infestations of the sugarcane aphid cause leaves to be covered with a sticky, shiny substance called honeydew. This honeydew is made up of plant sugars and water, which are harmless to animals. Honeydew is water soluble and washes off of the plant by rain or sprinkler irrigation. If honeydew is left on the plant, it eventually dries into a harmless residue.

Black sooty mold will often begin growing on the honeydew of sorghum leaves. This black sooty mold blocks out sunlight and decreases the plant’s ability to produce sugars through photosynthesis. Over time, black sooty mold causes leaves to turn yellow and eventually the leaf tissue dies.

Loss of plant sap from the sugarcane aphid feeding on sorghum leaves takes away nutrients from the plant that could otherwise be utilized for plant health and grain yield. Plant stress caused by the sugarcane aphids can also lead to uneven and lack of head emergence, poor grain set and will likely contribute to an increase in lodging.

Scouting

aphid scouting

  1. Fields should be scouted once a week for signs of the aphid. Once they are found, begin scouting at least twice a week.
  2. The first sign of sugarcane aphid buildup in a field is usually honeydew on lower leaves. 
  3. To determine if an insecticide treatment is needed, note the presence and number of aphids on leaves in at least four areas of the field. 
  4. In each area of the field examined, collect a leaf from the bottom and top of 20 plants, and observe the presence and number of aphids.

Source: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

When to Treat

Threshold levels change and vary between regions. It is important to check with local experts to determine regional thresholds and scouting procedures. In general, two methods are currently being utilized to determine when to apply an insecticide to treat for sugarcane aphids.

Texas A&M University entomologists recommend threshold has been reached when 25 percent of the plants are infested with 50 aphids per leaf.

Mississippi State has explored thresholds by growth stage, which are described in the following table. Regardless of the threshold level used, it is critical that insecticide application occurs as soon as possible. Otherwise, severe loss can occur.

Growth Stage

Threshold

Pre-boot & Boot

20 percent of plants infested with localized area of heavy honeydew and established aphid colonies.

Heading, Soft Dough & Dough

30 percent of plants infested with localized area of heavy honeydew and established aphid colonies.

Black Layer

Heavy honeydew and established aphid colonies on the flag leaf or in the head. Only treat to prevent harvest problems. Observe preharvest insecticide intervals.

2016 Texas High Plains Sugarcane Aphid Management Guide

Best Management Practices to Combat the Sugarcane Aphid

Insect Hunter Sugarcane Aphid Identification Video

KSU Sugarcane Aphid Information

Kansas Sorghum Insect Management

Sugarcane Aphid: Management Guidelines for Grain and Forage Sorghum in Texas

Insecticides

There are several possible insecticide options available to control the sugarcane aphid, but in 2016 Sivanto Prime and Transform WG proved to be the most effective labeled products. Sivanto Prime, flupyradifurone, is sold by Bayer CropScience under a federal 2ee label for use on grain sorghum. Sivanto Prime received a section 18 label for use in 2016 on sweet sorghum in five states. Transform, a Dow AgroSciences product, was approved for use on grain sorghum in 2016 under a section 18 label in 18 states. There is currently a 2017 section 18 label on Transform for use in Alabama, ArizonaArkansas, Colorado, Georgia,  Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, MissouriNew Mexico, North CarolinaOklahoma, South CarolinaTexas and Virginia. Labels can also be requested through local Dow AgroSciences representatives or herbicide distributors. 

One of the benefits of Transform and Sivanto Prime is they are not harmful to beneficial insects, which is important for the control of sugarcane aphids. Care should be taken in adding other insecticides to the mix that could be harmful to beneficial insects. Additionally, movement of Sivanto Prime and Transform in the plant is minimal, making coverage essential for adequate control.

When other insects such as headworms and midge are present at threshold levels it is tempting to use one of the cheaper pyrethroids to control these insects.  However, if sugarcane aphids are present in the field the use of pyrethroids may cause the aphids to quickly multiply due to the reduction in the beneficial population. Under these conditions consider using Prevathon, Blackhawk or other appropriate insecticides that maintain the beneficial insect population critical for keeping sugarcane aphid numbers in check.

Insecticide Application

When applying insecticides, it is important to read the full product label and follow instructions carefully. In general, ground rig application tends to work better than air application. Insecticide coverage is critical for sugarcane aphid control. Use spray nozzles and a spray pressure that maximizes coverage. Increasing the volume of water above the minimum requirements listed on the insecticide labels is recommended. Control will be lessened if insecticide application is made under cool conditions, including temperatures into the low 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The duration of control will depend on many factors, but under heavy infestation levels, expect anywhere from 5-14 days with 10 days being the most common length of control. Check with local experts on the use of adjuvants. Research on their effectiveness has been mixed.

Hybrids and Resistance

The table below lists those sorghum hybrids that have been identified over the last two years that have tolerance to sugarcane aphid based on university and other independent trials.   All of the hybrids listed are being marketed by their respective seed companies as sugarcane aphid tolerant.   This is not a complete list and companies may be promoting additional hybrids as sugarcane aphid tolerant.  Only those hybrids that have been identified as tolerant by a third party have been included here. 

Research has shown that sugarcane aphid reproduce slower on tolerant hybrids and in some cases are able to withstand a higher sugarcane aphid population without a reduction in yield compared to susceptible hybrids.   Tolerant hybrids have been shown to delay when sugarcane aphids may reach the economic threshold.  Growers, however, should scout and apply and insecticide to tolerant hybrids if and when the economic threshold is reached.  In some cases multiple applications of insecticide may be necessary.

Updated April 3, 2017

Company

Hybrid

Maturity

Alta Seeds

AG1201

Early

Alta Seeds

AG1203

Med-Early

Alta Seeds

AG1301

Med-Early

B-H Genetics

4100

Medium

B-H Genetics

3616

Early

Dekalb

DKS 37-07

Med-Early

Dekalb

DKS 48-07

Medium

Dekalb

Pulsar

Med-Early

Dyna-Gro Seed

DG 742c

Med-Early

Dyna-Gro Seed

M60GB31

Med-Early

Dyna-Gro Seed

M60GB88

Med-Early

Dyna-Gro Seed

M73GR55

Med-Full

Dyna-Gro Seed

M74GB17

Med-Full

Frontier Hybrids

F279

Early

Frontier Hybrids

F305

Med-Early

Golden Acres

3960B

Medium

Golden Acres

H-390W

Med-Early

Heartland Genetics

HG35W

Med-Early

NuTech Seed

GS 636

Med-Early

Pioneer

83P17

Med-Full

Pioneer

83P56

Med-Full

Pioneer

83P73

Med-Full

Pioneer

83G19

Med-Full

Pioneer

86P20

Med-Early

Pogue

PA225

Med-Full

Richardson Seeds

RS260E

Med-Full

Richardson Seeds

Sprint W FG

Med-Early

Sorghum Partners

SP 73B12

Med-Full

Sorghum Partners

SP7715

Med-Full

Sorghum Partners

SP 78M30

Med-Full

Warner Seeds

W-7051

Med-Full

Warner Seeds

W-844-E

Med-Full

Disclaimer of Warranties/Accuracy and Use of Data and Disclaimer of Endorsement

2016 Sugarcane Aphid Summary - R. Bowling, Corpus Christi, TX

Arkansas SCA Tolerant Hybrid List

KSU SCA Tolerant Hybrid List

Louisiana SCA Tolerant Hybrid List

Private companies and university sorghum breeders continue investigating resistance. They have identified better sources of sugarcane aphid resistance and tolerance and are working to incorporate these qualities into commercially available hybrids.

Ask your seed company representative or check here for hybrids with some tolerance to the sugarcane aphid.

Biological control along with tolerant hybrids is the key to long term management of sugarcane aphid in sorghum. Below are a set of videos by Kansas State University discussing key predators and how they interact with host plant resistance to control sugarcane aphids.
Lady Beetles
Hoverflies
Lacewings
Host Plant Resistance and Biological Control

Pre-Plant Considerations

To protect sorghum from potential early season infestations, growers should consider planting seeds treated with an insecticide seed treatment. Acceptable seed treatments include Cruiser (thiamethoxam), Poncho and Nipsit (clothianidin) and Gaucho (imidaclorprid), which should give up to 40 days of sugarcane aphid control.

Harvest Considerations

If sugarcane aphids are in significant numbers in the sorghum head or on the upper leaves, harvesting can be impeded due to honeydew. There is not a good threshold level at this time for when to spray sugarcane aphids to assist in harvest.

If sugarcane aphids are present and produce a significant amount of honeydew that can gum up the combine, many producers are opting to spray an insecticide to eliminate the risk of harvesting issues. Either Transform or Sivanto Prime may be used prior to harvest. The pre-harvest interval is 14 days for Transform in all states.  The pre-harvest interval for Sivanto Prime is also 14 days in Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Nebraska on a Section 24c label.  In states without a Section 24c label the pre-harvest restriction is 21 days.  Since sugarcane aphids only need to be controlled for a short period of time in order to get through harvest, the lowest effective insecticide rate should be used.  Both products can be mixed with harvest aid desiccants if desired.  Research has shown the use of desiccants alone can temporally cause sugarcane aphids to migrate into the heads and away from the desiccated leaves making harvest more difficult.