Sugarcane Aphid Management

Rep and farmer in sorghum field

Sorghum Industry Leader

Hybrid selection is your most important decision when it comes to managing sugarcane aphids. Pioneer is committed to developing new hybrids in a wide range of maturities with enhanced sugarcane aphid tolerance and the agronomic and defensive characteristics you need.

Understanding Tools to Fight Sugarcane Aphid

Sugarcane aphid was first observed in grain sorghum fields in 2013. The pest has spread rapidly across Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. It’s important to understand a few basics to ensure sugarcane aphid doesn’t get out of control in your fields.

Genetics Are Key

Sorghum field

Pioneer® brand sorghum features industry-leading genetics, exceptional yield potential and the best defensive package. Our cutting-edge breeding program focuses on identifying aphid-tolerant genetic markers. Our entomologists screen up to 400 hybrids per month for sugarcane aphid tolerance.

Resistant Hybrids Do Not Exist

sugarcane aphids

No sorghum hybrid is “aphid proof,” but Pioneer® brand sorghum is available in a range of maturities — several of which have demonstrated tolerance to sugarcane aphid. We screen for aphid tolerance at three dedicated nurseries and in dozens of on-farm trials. Photo: Infested sorghum leaf with all stages of sugarcane aphid present.

Proper Management Is A Must

Rep and farmer in sorghum field

It’s important to minimize stress on the plant by managing sugarcane aphid and other aspects of growth and development. In addition to aphid tolerance, select hybrids for important agronomic traits like standability, head exsertion, disease resistance and drought tolerance.

Sorghum field

Dedicated Sugarcane Aphid Research Program

Pioneer researchers are continually developing new sorghum hybrids from our elite germplasm with enhanced sugarcane aphid tolerance. Our team goes well beyond field observations to help ensure exceptional yield potential even under aphid pressure.

How to Manage Sugarcane Aphid

Sugarcane aphids reproduce exponentially on sorghum in a matter of days, severely stressing plants by sucking moisture out of leaves and depositing sticky honeydew that causes mold to grow, reducing photosynthesis. Follow these steps to best manage sugarcane aphid.

Select Tolerant Hybrids

Hybrid selection remains your most important sugarcane aphid management decision. Pioneer offers medium-early and medium-full sorghum hybrids with tolerance to sugarcane aphid. Studies show that these tolerant hybrids slow sugarcane aphid reproduction and withstand higher populations without yield loss. Combine sugarcane aphid-tolerant hybrids with an effective insecticide seed treatment for optimal control.

Control Weeds and Volunteer Plants

It’s important to control volunteer sorghum and weeds after harvest. Sugarcane aphids can overwinter on volunteer sorghum plants and weeds such as Johnsongrass, setting up the following year’s sorghum crop for an early infestation.

Follow a Planting Plan

Sugarcane aphids tend to become more active as temperatures increase. They seek out the newest sorghum plants. Planting early can give seedlings a head start before aphid populations multiply. Planting too late can make the field more of a target for hungry aphids.

Scout and Consider Insecticide Application

Tolerance is not the same as immunity — and sorghum hybrids differ in their ability to tolerate sugarcane aphid feeding. Regardless of your hybrid selection, it is important to regularly scout fields and apply an insecticide — even to tolerant hybrids — when infestations reach economic threshold levels.


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