BUSHLAND, TX (KFDA) - Sugarcane aphid populations are an increasing problem in grain sorghum fields across the Texas Panhandle.
First signs of infestation began August 1 near Bushland and have expanded as far as fields in Ochiltree County.
Infestation can begin with just a few aphids per plant and can easily turn to thousands within weeks. Once a plant has exhausted its resources, these aphids have the capability to grow wings and transfer to another plant.
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension specialists advise farmers to begin treatment if more than 50 aphids are spotted on a plant.
"The infestations can get so heavy that you won't get any grain developed on the crop," said entomologist Dr. Ed Bynum.
These sugarcane aphids first appeared in the Panhandle in 2013 near Lubbock and began to travel north, but they were not seen heavily until last year. Bynum says they have the potential to become a bigger problem this year, but two insecticides - Transform and Silvanto - were proven in field trials to help control the aphid population.
"This particular aphid has a higher tolerance against the insecticides that we use for other aphids in grain sorghum and so, through the work of testing to find out which insecticides can work, we have found those two particular products that do provide effective control," Bynum said
And Bynum said you shouldn't wait until later to rid your field aphids. If they continue to live closely during harvesting, aphids can damage combine equipment due to the excessive moisture they produce.
"They suck out the plant juices when they do, so they are not able to digest all of those plant juices," Dr. Bynum said. "So, they bypass the majority of the plant juices out which is called honeydew and it lands on the leaf surface. If they go to the head of the crop, it will gum up so the farmers can't get the combine in and harvest it."