Texas Sorghum: Producers Urged to Take Part in Suagrcane Aphid Survey

Sugarcane aphid nymphs and an adult on a grain sorghum leaf. Photo: Dr. Pat Porter, Texas A&M

Texas sorghum producers are urged to take part in a survey that will help Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economists compile data on the economic losses caused by sugarcane aphids statewide.

The study is supported by the Texas Sorghum Producers Association.

“The purpose of this research is to estimate the economic impact of the sugarcane aphid outbreak on Texas’ sorghum industry and the economy,” said Dr. Samuel Zapata, AgriLife Extension economist in Weslaco.

Producer participation is voluntary and anonymous. The survey is available here.

A statewide assessment will build on work done by Zapata and fellow AgriLife Extension economists who have conducted economic assessment studies in sorghum grown in the Rio Grande Valley.

In 2015, 310,000 acres of sorghum were planted in the region with an estimated economic value of $92.3 million. Their findings indicated farmers incurred $21.87 million in losses for 2014 and $17.53 million in 2015 for an average of $19.53 million.

The average loss per acre was $62, according to the research. For farmers who implemented different recommendations for controlling the sugarcane aphid once infested in Rio Grande Valley, that was estimated at $48 an acre.

The Rio Grande Valley study was recently presented as part of poster abstracts at the Texas Plant Protection Association Conference in Bryan.

Zapata said he anticipates the final statewide study to reveal similar economic losses.

“I think the losses will be very similar to what we saw here in the Valley,” he said. “When the sugarcane aphid first came to the area in 2014, no one knew how to control it. It took that first year to explore what the best methods were to try to control it. We had some success, but it continues to be a major threat to our Texas sorghum industry.

“We hope through these economic assessments we can demonstrate how the losses not only affect Texas sorghum producers, but show economic losses with regards to jobs and how that lost income affects economics in rural communities.”

Results should be compiled by May, Zapata said.

For more information about the survey or further questions, contact Zapata at 956-968-5581 or samuel.zapata@ag.tamu.edu .


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