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Texas, USA: Sugarcane aphid on grain sorghum

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Sugarcane aphid taking toll on South Texas grain sorghum

  • Sugarcane aphid damage to Valley sorghum tops $31 million
  • Control measures prevented worse losses

The tiny yellow specs on this sorghum leaf are sugarcane aphids, newcomers to the state’s forage and grain sorghum crops causing multi-million dollar losses.

(AgriLife Communications photo by Rod Santa Ana)

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.

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