Outcrossing between johnsongrass, sorghum studied

Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan, Texas A&M AgriLife

Johnsongrass and sorghum might be considered “kissing kin,” but a Texas A&M AgriLife Research team wants to know if there is more going on in the grain sorghum production fields and bar ditches of South and Central Texas than meets the eye.

Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan, weed scientist; Dr. Bill Rooney, sorghum breeder; and Dr. Patricia Klein, sorghum geneticist and molecular biologist, all with AgriLife Research in College Station, have teamed up to study gene flow between sorghum and johnsongrass. Continue reading

AgriLife Extension effort monitors sugarcane aphid seasonal movement

by Steve Byrnes, AgriLife Extension

A minuscule pest few Texas farmers had ever heard of three years ago has quickly gained notoriety as the most important insect pest of grain and forage sorghum in Texas, said an expert entomologist.

The pest is the sugarcane aphid, and it’s already been found infesting sorghum in the lower Rio Grande Valley and lower Gulf Coast this year, said Dr. Allen Knutson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist at Dallas. As in past years, the sugarcane aphid is expected to move into Central Texas and eventually the Texas High Plains, potentially infesting all of Texas’ sorghum-producing regions by late summer. Continue reading

Sugarcane aphids came early in Texas

in Southwest Farm Press

“Be careful what you wish for.” We have heard that phrase many times, in songs and poems, books and old adages, and probably from parents and teachers and a sibling or two. Its exact origin is unknown, but some credit an early 1800’s Goethe poem, others claim the old common saying is much older, some say younger.

Regardless its origin, however, nothing could be more true or fitting considering this year’s early spring in Deep South Texas. Farmers in the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) are finding the phrase particularly appropriate as they consider the good, the bad and the ugly of an early planting season this year. Continue reading

High Plains sorghum outlook outlined by AgriLife Extension specialists

by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife

Producers may be concerned about planting sorghum this season, but several Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialists said there are ways to prepare for upcoming issues and be profitable.

During the Interstate 40 Sorghum Luncheon recently in Amarillo, producers heard the latest on managing sugarcane aphids, weed control and how it all figures into the bottom line as producers manage crop budgets and pricing strategies. Continue reading

Sugarcane aphid research outlines economical control methods

by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife

Sorghum producers can reduce input costs and improve their bottom line in the battle against sugarcane aphids in the Texas High Plains through the use of selected varieties and early planting and scouting, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research study.

Dr. Ada (ah da) Szczepaniec (Stra PA netz), AgriLife Research entomologist in Amarillo, has wrapped up her first year of assessing the impact of planting dates, insecticide seed treatments and resistant varieties of sorghum on the timing and severity of sugarcane aphid infestations in a study near Bushland. Continue reading

UK extension helps farmers out of sticky situation

By Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

In the Monroe County community of Vernon, sweet sorghum production is the economic driver for the area’s Amish population. When a new pest threatened to destroy the 2016 crop, the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service stepped in to help the farmers save the crop and their livelihood.

Since 2013, the sugarcane aphid has made its way north each summer after spending the winter in Mexico and Texas. Before then, it did not feed on sorghum nor pose a serious threat. Continue reading

Seed treatments and hybrids are key to controlling sugarcane aphids

In Southeast Farm Press

Selecting tolerant hybrids and using treated seed are important steps to control sugarcane aphids in sorghum, which has become a major pest.

Speaking at Pee Dee Research and Education Center’s 2016 Field Day Sept. 13 in Florence, Francis Reay-Jones, associate professor of entomology at Clemson University, said using seed treatments and planting tolerant hybrids is critical because most of the labeled insecticides only provide “so so” control of sugar cane aphids. Continue reading

Sugarcane aphid research aimed at planting timing, variety selection

by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife

The “whens” and the “whats” of the sugarcane aphid are fueling the research of Dr. Ada Szczepaniec, Texas A&M AgriLife entomologist. For example, when are they most damaging, and what grain sorghum varieties do they prefer?

With the support of Texas Grain Sorghum Producers, Szczepaniec is testing several different strategies to determine their effectiveness in combating this fairly new pest to the Texas Panhandle. Continue reading

Sugarcane aphid populations increasing rapidly in the High Plains

by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife

Sugarcane aphid populations are exploding in grain sorghum fields across the Texas High Plains, warns a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service specialist in Amarillo.

Dr. Ed Bynum, AgriLife Extension entomologist, said the sugarcane aphid populations in the South Plains have reached economic thresholds. Infestations in the field can be just a few aphids per plant to a thousand or more aphids per plant. Continue reading

Weather in South Texas instrumental in helping farmers avoid pest pressure

by Rod Santa Ana, Texas A&M AgriLife

South Texas row crop producers are likely to answer with a smile when asked the age old ice-breaker, “Hot enough for you?”

Plentiful rainfall late last year combined with mostly hot, dry weather since have helped growers produce vigorous crops of cotton, grain sorghum and corn and healthy yields, according to experts with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Continue reading