Aphids Suddenly Threaten Important Texas Crop

Published 02/02 2014 01:35PM

Updated 02/20 2014 01:36PM

LUBBOCK, TX -- When Lubbock-area farmers can’t grow cotton their backup crop is very often sorghum. Lubbock is the home of the National Grain Sorghum Producers, and sorghum generates $974 million directly with a $2 billion yearly impact according to the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service.

A threat to sorghum is bad news for Texas, and unfortunately the extension service said last week there’s a new threat: sugarcane aphids.

The aphids have been in Florida since 1977 and were discovered in Louisiana in 1999. But only the last year have these aphids attacked sorghum.

Dr. Raul Villanueva, an extension service entomologist, said, “Simultaneously, it was also discovered attacking grain sorghum in Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and other areas of Texas, including the Coastal Bend and the Lower Rio Grande Valley, as well as Mexico.”

Crop losses from the aphid ranged from 50% to “completely wiped out” according to a written statement.

The extension service said 10 different pesticides have been tested. It also said in particular was shown to be effective and has been submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval.

The aphids do very well in dry conditions and so the ongoing drought in Texas has contributed to their quick spread. Mild winters are also a big windfall for the sugarcane aphids.

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