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RGV Sorghum Growers on Alert for Aphid Bug

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MERCEDES - Warmer temperatures in the Rio Grande Valley has sorghum growers taking preventative measures to protect their crops.

The sugarcane aphid arrived to the Valley in 2014. Sorghum grower Mike England said it’s been his nemesis ever since.

“When it comes to the Aphid, when it comes to biblical plagues, they are hard to battle,” he said. “We had fields that we didn’t even harvest. There wasn’t much reason to harvest or pick. Even after spraying twice we still got beat.”

England said he learned timing is everything after the pesky critter made its way to the south.

“Now, it’s trying to get there earlier and spray, and not wait until those thresholds get up there. There again, it’s timing,” he said.

Danielle Sekula-Ortiz with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension said warm weather is a perfect breeding ground for the sugarcane aphid.

“Sugar aphids reproduce so quickly, especially with our heat down here… They need those heat units to reproduce so that they can go from a population of five, 10, 20 and then in four days to about 500 per leaf,” she said.

Sekula said beating these insects means spraying them before seeing them.

“If you’re seeing 500 or 300 per leaf, and you’re like, ‘Oh, I need to spray’, you’re already too late… So you might lose 30 to 40 percent,” she said.

Sekula added millions of dollars and jobs have been saved in the Valley thanks to growers who take early and quick measures when fighting the insect. 

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