Sorghum experts look at ways to control aphids

by Laura Lloyd
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LUBBOCK, TEXAS — An aphid that was found in last year’s sorghum crop in humid areas of coastal Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi is being carefully watched by the sorghum industry as spring planting time for the 2014 crop approaches, said Justin Weinheimer, Ph.D., crop improvement director for the Sorghum Checkoff.

He said agronomists do not expect a significant 2014 impact from the aphid, which may have moved from attacking sugarcane to feeding on sorghum, but experts are looking at both chemical and natural means of controlling the pest. One insecticide under consideration is Transform WG, but it would require an emergency exemption from the Environmental Protection Agency in order to be used to control the aphids.

Agronomists also are looking at other possible solutions as well and “all options are on the table,” Dr. Weinheimer said.

He added that the problem may be less prevalent in 2014 because of the harsh winter in the coastal South.

“Considering that the 2013 sorghum crop was about 400 million bus, the percentage of the crop that was affected was insignificant,” Dr. Weinheimer said.

Sorghum has grown in popularity in recent years, largely because of its excellent drought tolerance. Kansas is the top-producing state, with sorghum a good choice for producers living in the western third of the state, which is usually dry. Areas affected by aphids were concentrated in wetter regions.
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