Sugarcane Aphids in Sorghum

(Jamie) Welcome to Farm Factor! Let’s join Duane and Dr. J.P. Michaud as they discuss Sugarcane Aphids, a newly invasive pest that’s still in explosive stages of range expansion.
(Duane) Duane Toews with AGam in Kansas and at the 2016 Sorghum Schools this particular event held in Ellsworth along with others at Scott City and Emporia. J.P. Michaud joins us on the program. And J.P. Sugarcane Aphids became a big issue for Kansas growers in some parts of the state last year, something that’s likely to be around and a problem for us for a while. (J.P.) Yes, this is a newly invasive pest that is still in explosive stages of range expansion. Fortunately it’s not one that’s going to spend the winter in Kansas, so it’s something that we’re going to deal with coming up from the south on a yearly basis for a while. (Duane) As far as the particular insect, obviously Texas has dealt with it for a number of years now. Are there things that we can learn from what they’ve dealt with? (J.P.) Our management situation is going to be quite different. This is a problem that began in Texas in 2013. It’s spread east and it’s spread north and right now it’s in an explosive stage of growth. But at some point we expect that we will have sustainable biological control of this pest, just like we have of the other aphid pests in sorghum. (Duane) We think about why this particular pest is a problem-there’s a couple of different issues that can affect the crop, not only from the time of infection, whether it affects yield but then also at harvest time as well. (J.P.) Yes, because it can feed on the crop until very late stages, right up until grain fill. And so that’s later than most other aphids. However, we’re far enough north that we tend to get some significant cool temperatures by the time we get to that stage of the crop. And that can help us with the harvest issues. Now, down south they’ve had a lot of fouling of the grain with the honeydew and then growth of mold in that grain and so forth. And for us if we have cool enough overnight temperatures, we can tolerate significantly more aphids at that stage of crop. And so we haven’t seen those harvest problems, at least last year. (Duane) Fortunately there are some products out there that we did get some exemption labels for and such to deal with it. But ultimately its a pest that very likely with the right numbers of them will require some application of an insecticide. (J.P.) Definitely. And we’re still in the process of tailoring these treatment thresholds for different regions. Our thresholds are probably going to be a little higher than they are down south. Because down south the plants gets infested much earlier and of course, they have warmer temperatures. For us, we also have some very good resistant varieties that were developed for green bug that will provide a good degree of protection against this aphid as well. (Duane) And we think about the volatility of the particular pest-it all kind of depends on the south wind and how much population in Texas. (J.P.) That’s precisely right, because this aphid will not overwinter much further north than Dallas and so if we were to get those strong southerly winds established, a pattern of that established earlier in the season, than we have in the past two years, it’s been relatively late, then we can look forward to a much more serious problem and a need to treat a much bigger acreage of the crop. (Duane) Our thanks to J.P. Michaud with K-State, joining us at the 2016 Sorghum School talking about Sugarcane Aphids. Jamie, we’ll send it back to you.
(Jamie) Folks, stay with us – Duane will be back with Curtis Thompson, plant pathologist with Kansas State University.

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