AgriLife research could help area producers fight invasive aphid

AgriLife research could help area producers fight invasive aphid
Dr. Ada Szczepaniec AgriLife research (Source: KFDA)
Dr. Ada Szczepaniec AgriLife research (Source: KFDA)
Bushland AgriLife sorghum field (Source: KFDA)
Bushland AgriLife sorghum field (Source: KFDA)

BUSHLAND, TX (KFDA) - Area researchers believe they have found ways to suppress an invasive sorghum pest.

AgriLife has been participating in research to help area producers overcome the sugarcane aphid, which is expected to target sorghum crops in 2017.

In 2015 and 2016, the Texas Panhandle had its worst infestations and now there are methods that entomologists believe can help.

"It's a problem for producers up here, and I know that 2015 caught a lot of people by surprise and caused a lot of problems for producers," said AgriLife Entomologist, Dr. Ada Szczepaniec. "I know producers didn't even want to grow sorghum this year because they were worried about the insect and not sure how to manage it."

These aphids have the ability to colonize quickly and according to Dr. Szczepaniec, it can be near to impossible to eliminate them once they manifest.

AgriLife has released their newest findings suggesting that they can help area producers decrease expenses on insecticides to fight this aggressive pest.

"We have some indications that the aphids arrive in our area in late July to early August," Szczepaniec said. "Once the aphids reach a crop, within three weeks they can colonization and you can see hundreds per leaf. Once they reach that stage, that's when it becomes very difficult to suppress them."

Szczepaniec said she has done research to help overcome another devastating infestation for producers.

Studies show that planting sorghum in May, rather than in June, can be a big way to stop aphids from ruining crops.

She said, the older the plant, the better it will be able to withstand an infestation.

She also suggests inspecting the crop often in July.

Researchers expect to see aphids this year and plan to further their studies by visiting South Texas in early May to observe when the aphids arrive to better determine when they are expected to get to the Panhandle.

"Sorghum is an important crop, in terms of irrigation it doesn't require a lot, so its a very important crop to keep in rotation," Szczepaniec said. "So, we want to study the habits of these aphids."

If not suppressed, these pests can be devastating causing sorghum yields to decrease.

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