White sugarcane aphids – a new grain sorghum pest for the Midsouth – has now been confirmed in Arkansas.
The find was made this morning when a group of Extension workers decided to blitz grain sorghum fields in southeast counties to see if they could locate the pest, which made its way last year from Texas into Louisiana and also has not been confirmed in Mississippi.
“As things worked out, it wasn’t hard to find – it turned up in the very first field we checked,” said Gus Lorenz, Arkansas Extension IPM Specialist. “Nick Seiter, who actually started work this week as our new area entomologist in that part of the state, found it within a few minutes of when we entered the field.”
Lorenz said the group drove a short distance to another neighboring grain sorghum field and found a heavier infestation.
Extension is in the process of applying for a Section 18 emergency use exemption to apply Transform on grain sorghum to control the aphid. A similar Mississippi exemption for Mississippi was announced this week.
“In that second field the aphids had reached the point that they need to be treated,” Lorenz noted.
Lorenz said that grain sorghum is a relatively minor crop in southeast Arkansas. His main concern is northeast Arkansas where the bulk of the state’s grain sorghum is grown.
“Based on how quickly this pest has spread, we have every reason to believe it will make it into north Arkansas this season,” he added. “If you drew a 50-mile radius from Memphis across that adjoining area in Arkansas you’d cover at least 85% of the crop, so we sure want to be prepared for when it’s confirmed there. I’ve gotten an unverified report that it might have been found in the Helena area.”