At this point likely all area sorghum producers are intimately aware of the Sugarcane Aphid, its rapid reproduction potential and its tremendous honeydew production. However, since their appearances late in the 2013 growing season entomologist have been unsure what aphid species they were actually dealing with. Recently, work by Dr. Scott Armstrong, USDA-ARS Entomologist from Stillwater, Oklahoma, has confirmed that it is Melanaphissacchari, the same aphid speciesseen infesting grain sorghum and sugarcane in Florida and South Africa.
Most producers have had to make application of Transform to many productions fields. Reports from Daniella Sekula, IPM Agent in the Rio Grande Valley, indicate that growers can expect 14 to possibly 21 day of protection for this application. Transform is extremely effective in knocking down heavy populations of Sugarcane Aphids when the applicator has good coverage of the insecticide. Therefore applicators are encouraged to apply at least 15 gallons of water and use an adjuvant such as InterLock at 2oz per acre along with the 1oz recommendation of Transform. The use of hollow cone nozzles is also encouraged.
The section 18 label for Transform only allows for 2 applications of Transform. However, you can use up to 3oz per season or 1.5oz per application. It is likely that in a several cases growers will be needed to use both of these applications, as reports are already being received from growers that second applications are becoming necessary.
The rapid population explosion potential of this pest cannot be overemphasized. Thus, growers are encouraged to continue scouting fields even after they make their first application. While many fields have required one and even two sprayings, it should also be highlighted that there are several fields that have yet to require an application and many more that have just recently received their first application. Therefore, close monitoring of fields can potentially delay applications to closer to harvest as hampering harvesting operations is the greatest concern with this pest. Leaves becoming sticky and shiny from honeydew and coated with sooty mold fungus (grows on honeydew) which will clog harvest equipment when pest populations are not managed.
For the most part the sorghum crop is around a month from harvest for most. This is a concern to growers that have already or who are about to make their second application of Transform. However, growers are reminded that Dimethoate is also labeled for this pest. While harder on beneficial insects, studies in Texas have also shown it to be effective in controlling this aphid. Application of this type of product may be necessary to protect yields against late season pests in the grain head regardless of aphid pressure.