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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Tifton, Georgia » Crop Genetics and Breeding Research » Research » Research Project #442520

Research Project: Developing Integrated Ecological Tactics for Managing Sugarcane Aphid Outbreak

Location: Crop Genetics and Breeding Research

Project Number: 6048-21220-020-001-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2022
End Date: Aug 31, 2027

The outbreak of the sugarcane aphid on sorghum has caused severe economic losses in grain, forage, silage and sweet sorghum production. The objectives of this project are: 1) to monitor sugarcane aphid migration and aphid population dynamics using sentinel plots; 2) to examine perennial grasses as overwintering hosts throughout the year to provide data to validate synoptic model for sugarcane aphid migration and to define geographic overwintering potential; and 3) to integrate all existing management tactics to provide both short-term and long-term solutions for growers, which includes identifying the best commercial hybrids available, effective insecticides, and maximize the potential of using natural enemies (i.e., predators, parasitoids, and pathogens) for explosive aphid population growth and aphid population collapse in six weeks.

The initial aphid infestation is critically important in designing contingent management strategies to suppress aphid population before its exponential growth period. Thus, aphid overwintering host(s) and location(s) are important for areawide management of this pest. In addition, aphid long distance migration and local dispersal will also be important for us to determine. Therefore, a comprehensive approach will be taken to determine the northerly limit of sugarcane aphid overwintering limit by sampling the Johnsongrass and Miscanthus spp. as the overwintering hosts during winter and throughout the year. In addition, sentinel sorghum plots will be planted at different times, i.e., 2-8 weeks before normal planting time, and normal planting time to determine the initial aphid infestation time against growth stage of sorghum plants and then monitor aphid population dynamics in these plots throughout the growing season. Such information would be critically important in developing a synoptic model for sugarcane aphid migration and population dynamics. In addition, Georgia State Variety Trials for grain and forage sorghum hybrids will also be conducted to provide growers with new information for hybrid selection in the coming years. In addition, related natural enemy and insecticide trials and bioassays and field trials will also be performed. Our collaborative team will also participate in state crop field days to timely disseminate the progress and new information collected from this areawide project.