sca_9-30-15Sugarcane aphid (SCA) is a relatively new pest for grain and forage sorghum growers but its presence has made an impact. While aphid infestations may result in losses of more than 30 percent of the crop, growers who plan ahead and manage fields proactively can lessen the loss and avoid harvesting issues from the sticky residue.

First discovered in Texas in 2013, sugarcane aphid populations have quickly moved north and west to Oklahoma, Kansas and even California. In 2013 SCA was in 38 counties across 4 states, by 2015 populations migrated to cover 417 counties in 17 states.

Alta Seeds AG1203 (left) under heavy SCA pressure vs. trial competitor.

SCA feeding on sorghum during grain development can cause significant crop losses, reducing yields and stunting plant growth. The aphid intercepts nutrients intended for the development of leaves and grain heads by feeding on plant sap. Heavy infestations of SCA during grain fill reduces yields by reducing grain size and quality.

As the SCA feeds it produces large amounts of honeydew, making leaves sticky and shiny. This can reduce harvest efficiency and lead to increased equipment cleaning and repair costs by gumming up harvest equipment. As aphids continue to feed on the plant, the sorghum leaves turn yellow, purple, and then brown. Black sooty mold may grow in the honeydew, which can reduce photosynthesis.

Management Starts at Planting
The first step in preventing crop losses from SCA infestations is to select a sorghum hybrid with tolerance to the pest. Tolerant hybrids can withstand or recover from insect damage compared to more susceptible hybrids.

Hybrids for What Matters Most
Taking this first step with a tolerant hybrid helps manage sugarcane aphids before they can damage your crop. Alta Seeds line-up of sorghum hybrids are tested by the Agricultural Research Division of the USDA and several Universities to determine the tolerance rating for sugarcane aphid.

Currently Alta Seeds offers three hybrids with excellent SCA tolerance ratings: AG1201, AG1203 and AG1301. These hybrids have displayed a high level of genetic tolerance to SCA in field trials of Louisiana State University and Texas AgriLife.

AG1201 – Early Bronze widely adaptable hybrid with excellent sugarcane aphid tolerance

  • Excellent yield for maturity
  • Strong drought tolerance

    “We are really happy with the 1203 and 1201 from Alta Seeds. I can’t believe the size of the grain heads; I am really impressed with these genetics. We’ve been looking for hardiness that will consistently produce 120 bushel milo with minimal inputs for a long time.”
    – Dennis Gorges, Andale, KS

AG1203 – Medium-Early Bronze trial-topping performer with excellent sugarcane aphid tolerance

  • Outstanding Yields from Colorado across Kansas and through Texas.
  • Excellent standability, uniformity and drought tolerance for dryland or irrigated fields

AG1301 – Medium-Early Cream for dryland or irrigated with excellent sugarcane aphid tolerance

  • Excellent staygreen and standability
  • Widely adaptable with plant uniformity

View Sugarcane Aphid Tolerance Trials 
Texas A&M University – Bushland, TX, 2015
Louisiana State University – Multiple Locations, 2015
USDA – Agricultural Research Service – Stillwater, OK, 2015

The Alta Seeds experimental product pipeline reveals additional hybrids with strong tolerance to aphid pressure compared to existing commercial and competitor’s products, reports Dr. Ben Byer, sorghum breeder for Advanta North America. Leveraging a superior and diverse germplasm, our R&D team is breeding varieties for aphid tolerance paired with high yield potential and a strong disease package for a wide range of conditions.

Sugarcane aphid tolerance of Alta Seeds AG1203 helped it keep growing in this heavily-infested trial.
Sugarcane aphid tolerance of Alta Seeds AG1203 helped it keep growing in this heavily-infested trial.


For What Matters Most to Growers
Alta Seeds delivers grain and forage sorghum with traits and genetics growers expect at costs to help improve profitability. Our complete line-up of hybrids provide elite performance for higher yields and maximum crop quality. From superior standability to exceptional drought and pest tolerance, Alta Seeds sorghum offers adaptable performance to the variable conditions growers face from year to year.

Scouting Sugarcane Aphids – AgriLife Extension
Management for Grain & Forage Sorghum – AgriLife Extension
Scouting Sugarcane Aphids – Kansas State University
Grain sorghum growers urged to look out for sugarcane aphids – AgriLife Extension