The 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 aphid and its effects to scouting techniques and when to treat.
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 those 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 when 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 aphids 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 insecticide applied once the economic threshold has been reached.
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