Sugarcane aphid update—spread and control options

Sugarcane aphid has advanced as far north as Halifax County, North Carolina—about 30 miles south of the Virginia border. To prepare for the possibility of sorghum field infestations, we have pursued a Section 18, Emergency Exemption for the use of Transform insecticide. This process involved a lot of good cooperation by VDACS who put the request together and forwarded it to the US EPA. We are awaiting approval. If approved, Transform (sulfoxaflor) can be used at 0.75-1.5 oz/acre and has a 14 day preharvest interval. Having Transform will give us access to the two insecticides that most states are relying on to combat sugarcane aphid—Transform and Sivanto. Since controlling heavy infestations it is taking two applications, having these options provides insecticides with different chemistries—always a good strategy.

We do not know if sugarcane aphids have infested sorghum fields in Virginia as we do not have a statewide sorghum pest surveillance program. According to FSA records, 12,245 acres of sorghum are grown for grain in 45 different Virginia counties, ranging from as few as 10 acres to as many as 1,000 depending on the county (view the attachment for a summary and FSA web site acreage source). With a crop that is this variable and widespread, it will be up to growers, crop advisors and local VCE agents to check fields for sugarcane aphids. As we have mentioned in earlier advisories, the crop is vulnerable until harvest.

Please let us know if an infestation is found so we can track this pest for future program development.

Sorghum acreage 2015