Grain sorghum producers from South Texas, into the Blacklands, up into Oklahoma and the Texas High Plains should be alert this year for sugarcane aphid infestations.
Allen Knutson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist, Dallas, made that point to Blackland producers recently at the Blackland Income Growth Conference in Waco. The conference is sponsored by AgriLife Extension and the Waco Chamber of Commerce.
The pest, a relative new one for sorghum growers, infested grain and forage sorghum crops in parts of Texas in 2014 and can pose another threat with the upcoming crop season, said Knutson.
The sugarcane aphid was first reported in the U.S. in Florida in 1977 on sugarcane. According to Knutson, the insect was first found feeding on sorghum near Beaumont, Texas, in 2013 and this new sorghum-feeding biotype soon spread to the Rio Grande Valley and northward through Texas.
“Sugarcane aphids feed on plant sap, causing sorghum leaves to turn purple and yellow and reducing yield,” Knutson said. “This aphid also produces great quantities of sticky honeydew, which collects on leaves and stalks. At harvest, these sticky plants clog up combines and reduce harvest efficiency.” Read more on sugarcane aphids.