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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Tale of Two Borers)

item White, William
item Kimbeng, Collins
item Zhou, Marvellous
item Da Silva, Jorge

Submitted to: Sugar Bulletin
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/17/2009
Publication Date: 7/20/2009
Citation: White, W.H., Kimbeng, C., Zhou, M., Da Silva, J. 2009. A Tale of Two Borers. Sugar Bulletin. 87:29-31.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The sugarcane borer has historically been the most important insect pest of sugarcane wherever the crop is grown in the US. It can also be a pest of corn, rice, and grain sorghum. In 1980 this situation changed when the Mexican rice borer moved into south Texas. The Mexican rice borer quickly became the dominate insect pest in the Texas sugarcane growing area. Since 1980 the Mexican rice borer has steadily expanded its range until in December of 2008 it was detected in far western Louisiana. The Mexican rice borer is primarily a pest of stressed sugarcane so it is not known how devastating of a pest the insect will become in the rain-feed environment that sugarcane is grown in Louisiana. Host resistance will undoubtedly be an important control tactic in managing the insect; however, due to significant differences in behavior many assume that a breeding program specifically for the Mexican rice borer will be needed to develop resistance. We hypothesize that due to some important similarities in behavior – primarily the site of entry of larvae into the stalk – that varieties found to be resistance to the sugarcane borer would also be resistant to the Mexican rice borer. In a two-year study we collected infestation data from 80 different varieties of sugarcane grown in south Texas where both borer species are present. Our results suggest that the sugarcane borer resistance status of a variety would be useful as a predictive tool in determining how it would react when exposed to infestation by the Mexican rice borer. These are very important results as they show that only one breeding strategy would be needed for developing resistance to both insects. This is good news for growers as it means that resistance to the Mexican rice borer should be available for cultivation relatively quickly.

Last Modified: 05/27/2017
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