Pest posing problem for sorghum crop

Pest posing problem for sorghum crop

Amarillo, TX - Farmers across the state are concerned about a pest affecting Texas's grain sorghum, but our area is less at risk.

Some fields in south Texas have been wiped out and most growers have seen a dramatic reduction in yields.

Sorghum is primarily used as a feed grain for livestock, which means meat prices for consumers have the potential to increase.

However, Ed Bynum with Texas A&M Agrilife Extension say, growers in our area may not be affected.

"Fortunately for us, it has not migrated or moved into the Texas high plains, we don't think it would be able to over winter because it is a subtropical pest and because it is a subtropical pest it may not be able to migrate with our winter conditions that we have up here."

The pest's origin is unknown but right now they are calling it the "sugarcane aphid."

"As it feeds on the sorghum plant, it injects a toxin in it and that toxin then will kill the leaves, and it will eventually kill the plant."

Grain sorghum is usually a lucrative crop that is inexpensive and easier to grow than cotton.

Dr. Stephen H. Amosson says this pest could be devastating for a farmer.

"If you took a 50-percent shot in yields then you are going to be losing a lot of money that you may not be able to afford this year."

Even though the risk in our area is not as high, farmers should report any pest they discover.

"If we find it and we know about it then we can be scouting for it and then we can treat so it will reduce the amount of loss that it could cause."

We grow several thousand acres of sorghum in our area.