Assessment of a density-based action threshold for suppression of sugarcane aphids, (Hemiptera: Aphididae), in the southern High Plains.
In the High Plains, sugarcane aphid, Melanaphis sacchari Zehntner (Hemiptera: Aphididae), colonize grain sorghum, Sorghum bicolor (L) Moench (Cyperales: Poaceae), when it is in reproductive stages and aphid populations increase rapidly. Sugarcane aphid management recommendations based on aphid densities have been implemented in southern United States, but have not been assessed in the High Plains. Therefore, the goal of this work was to validate whether these guidelines can provide effective suppression of the aphids and improve yield. In a 2-y field experiment, sorghum susceptible (DKS44-20) and resistant (DKS37-07) to sugarcane aphids, with and without insecticide (clothianidin) seed treatments, was exposed to natural aphid infestations and treated with a foliar insecticide (flupyradifurone) once sugarcane aphid densities exceeded 50 per leaf. Further, to assess the effects of these tactics on sorghum yield, data were collected from plots that were not treated at the threshold. In both years, foliar insecticide applied at the density-based threshold decreased aphid numbers across sorghum hybrids with and without seed treatments and aphid densities remained below threshold for the remainder of the season. Yield of sorghum depended on sugarcane aphid pressure - when their densities were high (2016), the resistant hybrid with and without the foliar spray outperformed the unsprayed susceptible hybrid, while the susceptible hybrid had higher yields than resistant hybrid when sugarcane aphid pressure was low (2017). Outcomes of this work support the notion that a well-timed foliar application can alleviated losses in yield in sorghum in the Texas Panhandle and potentially other regions of the High Plains.