Known Sorghum Pest Spotted in California

Taylor Hillman Pest Update

Sorghum Pest

Courtesy: UCANR

Producers have reported a new sorghum pest in their California fields. Experts say the bug is well known outside of the state and can cause some significant damage.

Sorghum growers in California are experiencing complications from the sugarcane aphid, a pest that was previously only seen in other states. Director of the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Fresno County, Jeff Dahlberg, said we may be seeing the pest now because we’ve seen an increase in sorghum acres. “It’s not a new pest; it’s been in the United States for a while. It’s just new to California and has been reported this year,” Dahlberg said. “I think what’s happened is we have seen an increase in sorghum acres over the past several years. This insect has been moving from the Southeast into Texas, Arizona into Mexico and has just finally ventured itself up into California.”

Dahlberg said there are still a lot of questions about the impact to California’s production. “It seems to be causing quite a bit of damage and consternation, especially in grain sorghum, but we don’t really know what kind of impact it has on forage sorghum yet,” Dahlberg said. “There haven’t been a lot of reports on forage sorghum, what kind of damage, what the economic trigger is to spray and those kind of things. Those are questions we have for the United Sorghum Checkoff and the other researchers doing work on sorghum and sugarcane aphid in other states.”

Dahlberg says there’s a potential for a lot of damage from the sugarcane aphid. “This thing can really blow up very, very quickly,” Dahlberg said. “We have found it here on the center and so we are doing a little bit of evaluation and work. There seems to be a lot of beneficial insects coming in and keeping the populations down here quickly so that’s good to know. They reproduce so quickly that you can go from just a couple of sugarcane aphids to a lot very, very rapidly.”