In the last two weeks, the white sugarcane aphid has been confirmed at damaging levels in sorghum fields in Florida and Georgia. The difficult-to-control pest started causing problems in Texas two years ago when it switched its host preference from sugarcane to grains.
The aphid is confirmed in southwest Georgia, particularly in Marion, Decatur, Early, Seminole, Colquitt, Taylor, Terrell, Randolph, Tift and Thomas counties, according to Rome Ethredge, University of Georgia Extension coordinator in Seminole County.
It’s in high numbers in fields, several thousand aphids per plant. Sorghum growers are advised to scout fields regularly. The aphid is expected to spread over the next few months. It produces a lot of honeydew, a substance that sticks to plants and causes problems at harvest, resulting in yield lose at harvest and damage to harvesting equipment. Pyrethroids can flare white sugarcane aphids.
“I have been learning more about aphid entomology than I bargained (the week of Aug. 25). This spring and summer I have read about challenges with Sugarcane aphids in the Mid South, Deep South, and Texas. I have been thinking we were fortunate not to deal with the pest. However, we have tentatively identified the aphids here in Columbia County, pending confirmation. I have heard a positive identification has been made in Alachua County already. My first encounter was 10 days ago when a sorghum grower called me to report aphids. My reaction was, ‘We always have aphids, don’t worry about it.’ When I learned this week what we are dealing with, I called him back and he confirmed that in seven days his crop went from lush green to black.’”
According to Delta Farm Press:
Louisiana State University “AgCenter entomologist David Kerns said aphids have been a sugarcane pest in Louisiana since 1999, but in 2013 moved to grain sorghum for the first time. The 2013 infestation occurred late in the season and only caused harvest efficiency problems. The aphids produce a sticky honeydew that can clog harvesters.
“The aphid (Melanaphis sacchari) has been found this season in Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Arkansas. … Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas have been granted emergency Section 18 registrations for the use of Transform on white sugarcane aphids. Kerns said Transform provides 90 percent control, which is much better than other insecticides that have only 50 percent to 60 percent control. One application of Transform is usually enough for the entire season.”