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Mysterious pest threatens Texas’ billion-dollar grain sorghum crop

Man kneels in field of grain sorghum

AgriLife Communications photo by Rod Santa Ana

A tiny insect of unknown origin is posing a serious threat to the billion dollar Texas grain sorghum crop.

“For now, we’re calling this pest the sugarcane aphid,” said Dr. Raul Villanueva, an entomologist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco. “It was first seen last year. We’re not sure if it’s a new invasive pest or if it just switched hosts, from sugarcane to grain sorghum. But it is a serious threat to this year’s grain crop and at this time there is no proven control for it.”

An insecticide known as Transform WG was tested and found to be effective against this pest, Villanueva said. It is among 10 pesticides now being tested in Texas and Louisiana for their ability to manage sugarcane aphid populations.