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 can cause up to 100 percent crop loss if left uncontrolled according to a Mississippi State University study, 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.

Watch this excellent Aphix overview from the 2021 Sorghum Frontiers Virtual Field Day.