Sugarcane aphid is already devastating Texas grain sorghum

In Southwest Farm Press

by Rod Santa Ana, Texas AgriLife

It may be hard to spot, but the tiny sugarcane aphid is racking up tens of millions of dollars in losses in just the four South Texas counties evaluated so far, according to a report by an economist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

And the losses would have been much higher had grain sorghum growers not followed the advice of AgriLife Extension experts, according to Dr. Samuel Zapata, who conducted the study from the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Weslaco.

“The economic study we did here in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas on the sugarcane aphid is the only such study available,” Zapata said. “It’s the only study that has been able to quantify the economic damage caused by this insect.”

Zapata estimates the sugarcane aphid caused a total loss of $31 million to the Valley’s sugarcane industry in the 2014 and 2015 growing seasons. But at the same time, growers were able to avoid another $35 million in potential losses by following control recommendations released by AgriLife Extension.

Sugarcane aphids were first reported in the U.S. in Florida in 1977 in sugarcane, according to AgriLife Extension entomologists.

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