The battle between Alabama sorghum growers and sugarcane aphids infestations has raged for several years. Auburn University and Alabama Cooperative Extension System professionals working with industry partners have worked diligently to determine the best courses of action for southern sorghum growers.
The Sorghum Checkoff program recently released a list of hybrid sorghum varieties known to be resistant to sugarcane aphids. Alabama Extension entomologist Dr. Kathy Flanders said these are varieties producers will want to consider for this year’s planting season.
Choosing a Sorghum Variety
Flanders said as with any crop a farmer is planning to grow, it is important to look at published yields. Consider studies from nearby university and seed company trials conducted on similar soil types.
“Choose varieties with a high yield potential,” Flanders said. “Discuss the variety selection carefully with your seed dealer and get as much information as possible about each hybrid or variety.”
“Choosing a hybrid variety to plant may be a task that requires assistance,” she said. “Contact your Extension regional agronomic crops agent or your seed dealer to help you make an informed decision that will benefit your operation in the long run.”
The length of hybrid maturity is important. Typically, longer maturity periods correlate with higher yield potential. Evaluate the length of growing season in relationship to desired planting date. Also consider yield potential based on soil quality and water availability–both rainfall and irrigation. If a given environment will not support high yield potential, then a shorter maturing hybrid is often more appropriate.
Adaptability of the hybrid to the region is another important factor in choosing the right hybrid variety. Evaluating drought tolerance is essential for sorghum grown under dryland or with irrigation limitations.
“Get information including the growth characteristics of the plant and any insect, disease or herbicide resistance bred into the plant whether by traditional or genetically modified means,” Flanders said.
Resistant Sorghum Hybrid Varieties
During the past two years, researchers and industry partners have worked to identify sorghum hybrids resistant to sugarcane aphids through university and independent trials. Find a list of these resistant sorghum hybrids here. This is a working list of varieties marketed by their companies to show host plant resistance. Additional varieties may be added to the list upon identification.
Resistant hybrids can still have sugarcane aphid infestations. So regardless of the hybrid, growers should scout for insects and apply insecticides when sugarcane aphid numbers reach the economic threshold. Find advice on managing sugarcane aphids on sorghum in Alabama Extension’s publication, Sugarcane Aphid: A New Sorghum Pest in North Alabama.
For assistance in the field and on the farm, contact your local Extension office and set up a meeting with your local agronomic crops agent.