Texas Mid-Coast Sorghum: Sugarcane Aphids Found Above Economic Threshold

Sugarcane aphids.

While some sorghum fields in the Mid-Coast of Texas have already been harvested, the remaining fields should be inspected for Sugarcane Aphids (SCA). This week I have seen an increasing number of fields with treatable levels of aphids.

Scout fields by walking at least 15-20 rows into the field and looking for honeydew on the plants. Two scouting methods can be followed depending on the threshold you plan on using.

Once SCA are found in a field, use one of the following protocols to assess the need for insecticide treatment.

Threshold Based on SCA per Leaf

  1. Examine the underside of one completely green leaf from the lower canopy and the upper most leaf (or leaf below the flag leaf at boot to heading). Estimate and record the number of SCA per leaf.
  2. Examine two leaves (one upper and one lower) from each of five randomly selected plants for a total of 10 leaves per location.
  3. Repeat at four locations for a total of 40 leaves per field.
  4. Calculate the average number of aphids per leaf for the field (total aphids counted/total leaves inspected).

If the field average is above 50 aphids or more per leaf, apply an insecticide within one to three days.

Thresholds Based on Sorghum Growth Stages

  1. Walk 25 feet into the field and examine the underside of green leaves from the lower canopy to the uppermost leaf for aphids.  Watch for honeydew that indicates aphids on the leaf above.
  2. Record of the number of plants infested with 50 or more aphids. Also, record the number of un-infested plants and plants with fewer aphids.
  3. Examine a minimum of 10 plants at four locations across the field. Calculate the percentage of plants infested with 50 or more aphids (divide the number of plants with 50 or more aphids by the total number of plants and multiply by 100).
Thresholds Based on Sorghum Growth Stages
Growth stage Decision threshold
Preboot 20% of plants infested with 50 or more aphids
Boot 20% of plants infested with 50 or more aphids
Flowering – milk 30% of plants infested with 50 or more aphids
Soft dough 30% of plants infested with established aphid colonies and localized areas with heavy honeydew
Dough 30% of plants infested with established aphid colonies and localized areas with heavy honeydew
Black Layer Heavy honeydew and established aphid colonies. Treat only to prevent harvest problems. Observe preharvest intervals for insecticides

While scouting for sugarcane aphids, continue to look for stink bugs and headworms until hard dough and treat them if they exceed economic thresholds.

The Sorghum Economic Threshold Calculator Link is HERE.


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