Selecting a Hybrid
It is important to begin thinking about hybrid choices during the early winter months and book your seed early. To assist in your decision of the hybrid that best fits your operation, university and company data is available. Planting more than one hybrid should be considered to help spread risk.
When selecting a hybrid, there are several things to consider. The length of hybrid maturity is key because the longer the maturity typically the higher the yield potential. Factors to evaluate in terms of hybrid maturity include length of growing season in relationship to desired planting date as well as yield potential based on soil quality, water availability both irrigation and rainfall. If a given environment will not support high yield potential, then a shorter maturing hybrid is often more appropriate.
Other items to assess include the adaptability of the hybrid to the region, yield potential of the hybrid given its maturity and its standability. A hybrid's head exertion is also important, as it will help with harvestability. Evaluating a hybrid's drought tolerance is essential if it will be grown under dryland or limited irrigation. Insect and disease resistance are also key items to consider when selecting a hybrid that is the best choice for your farm. When considering which hybrids to plant, when at all possible, examine data over multiple years.
Sugarcane Aphid Tolerant Hybrids
Over the last three years, the United Sorghum Checkoff Program has provided a list of hybrids known to have at least some tolerance to the sugarcane aphid. This list was comprised of only hybrids where tolerance had been observed by third parties. Going forward, the Sorghum Checkoff will no longer be providing this list. Seed companies have now had multiple growing seasons to observe their hybrids and should have a good grasp of their tolerance level. Growers in those regions where sugarcane aphid has been a reoccurring issue should visit with their seed company representative as well as seek advice from regional extension agronomists and entomologists on choosing hybrids.
When choosing a sugarcane aphid tolerant hybrid, all of the criteria used for selecting a non-tolerant hybrid should be considered. Growers are better off to plant a regionally adapted non-tolerant hybrid with good yield potential over a poorly adapted tolerant hybrid. Sugarcane aphid can be controlled with good scouting and timely insecticide application, if needed.
Current commercially available tolerant hybrids are NOT immune from sugarcane aphid. However, research has consistently 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 should be scouted and an insecticide should be applied once the economic threshold has been reached.