In Texas being bigger is not necessarily being the most dangerous, especially when it comes to the Sugarcane Aphid. 2014 has brought about a real concern for the Texans that grow sorghum as feed for cattle. It has been 80 years since anything has wreaked as much havoc on the grain sorghum as the sugarcane aphid has the ability to do this year. It started to be a concern early in the growing season, causing all to scramble for solutions to control the damage to the crops and reduce the aphid populations.
This aphid, originally named Sugarcane Aphid after being found on the sugarcane fields, has found its way from Florida to Louisiana and on to the fair state of Texas! Not only does this infestation cause damage to the plants by injecting toxins while sucking out the nutrients, resulting in decreased grain and reduction on overall yield, but the little ‘suckers’ also secrete a honeydew sticky stuff that covers the plant making harvesting quite a mess!
The cost of damage from the sugarcane aphid last year was over $50 million and with the increase in population / infestation, the cost of the damages is expected to be much higher, estimated at $400 million statewide this year. In this economy, a daunting thought to say the least. There is really no way to completely rid the crops of this aphid, and it takes large numbers to cause damage that is widely felt, but given the fact that these aphids start to reproduce at 2 to 7 days old, they multiply fast. They will start their feasting on the lowest leaves of the plant, giving birth to live babies that are born hungry. There are specific numbers of aphids that are tolerated on plant leaves, depending on the size and maturity of the plant, so these crops are being monitored closely, every few days, with treatment options dependant on the infestation numbers.
Bio-Tech wishes all these farmers a successful growing season!