Blog Post

White sugarcane aphids closing in on Tennessee

MID-SOUTH: The white sugarcane aphid (Melanaphis sacchari has been confirmed in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Arkansas, and now it’s threatening to affect Tennessee. This aphid infests grain sorghum, and the impact can be significant.

Heavy infestations prior to head emergence can kill or stunt plants and/or reduce head size. Its population can increase rapidly (as shown in the photo above) – to the point of THOUSANDS per leaf.Like many other aphid species, the white sugarcane aphid produces a sticky honeydew that can inhibit photosynthesis and cause significant issues during harvest by clogging combines. Yield losses can reach as high as 50 percent.

Treatment is recommended when moderate to large colonies are present and sticky honeydew is starting to appear. The numerical threshold is when 30 percent of plants have one aphid (average 100-250 per leaf), being more aggressive if sorghum is drought-stressed.

Consider all of your treatment options before selecting a product. Pyrethroids are not very effective on this pest, offering only about 50-60 percent control. Remember, coverage is ESSENTIAL, and it’s important to control aphids prior to a midge application – because treating for midge with aphids present can eliminate the natural predators that would otherwise keep the aphid population at bay.

For more information, check out this article from the University of Tennessee or these photos from Delta Farm Press and Texas Panhandle Pest News.

Reporting from Collierville, TN

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