Local producers share tips for fighting pests

Local producers share tips for fighting pests

The south plains has seen quite a bit of rain that is helping producers, but has also brought in threatening factors like weeds, unmanageable soil, and one of the smaller things that has made a big impact: pests.

"The sugar cane aphid is a fairly new pest to sorghum, first detected in south Texas and the Mississippi Delta in 2012

and 2013," Weinheimer said. "And really became an issue for sorghum during the 2014 crop year."

Sorghum is not typically a host for the sugar cane aphid. As the name implies, it came from sugarcane, which made it more difficult for producers to adjust to the new pest. Weinheimer said that

there are ways it can be dealt with.

"From a management standpoint, the farmers number one advantage to managing the pest is going to be scouting."Weinheimer said. "Scouting at least once a week in a field and if aphids are detected, taking that up to maybe two or three times a week and continuing to monitor that pest."

Wienheimer said that beyond scouting, the most important things you can do are to work with your crop consultant, chemical dealers, or local extension to determine the best management practices. Rick Cochenhower, a national sales agronomist for sorghum partners, said that these are helpful tips for scouting.

"The tip for scouting for sugar cane aphids is to always start at the edge of the field." Cochenhower said. "Because traditionally that's where they start, is on the edge of the field and

they progress into the field. Start looking under the bottom of the leaves, because that's where they're usually at on the plant."

Cochenhower said that when you see them you should be scouting every two to three days. Then you can make a decision on spraying, and there are two different methods to making that call.

"Texas a&m method is go out in your field and scout and take pictures, they've got a little card that you can use." Cochenhower said.

"When you get between 50 and a hundred per leaf, that's when you make the decision to spray, Mississippi State has an older

method they use in the previous year, at different growth stages, when you're early in the year, and 30 percent of the plants are infected, that's when you spray."

Cochenhower said that if it is early in the season producers may have to spray twice. If left in the field too long, sugar cane aphids can make harvesting more difficult and even cause damage to equipment.

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