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OSU scientists to refine methods of testing for pests

Monday, November 22, 2021

Sugar cane aphid


The National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently awarded a $323,000 grant to Oklahoma State University research and Extension faculty to refine the method in which scientists test a preliminary natural enemy (NE) threshold to determine its potential for infesting sorghum crops.


Since the 2013 invasion of the sugarcane aphid (SCA) on sorghum in the U.S., integrated pest management (IPM) scientists and practitioners have worked together to develop IPM programs in a diverse set of growing regions.


In the southern and central plains where nearly 80% of grain sorghum is grown, IPM programs are currently based on the deployment of varietal resistance, reliable aphid economic thresholds, efficient sampling plans and conservation of natural enemies through the use of selective insecticides.


A final missing component is integrating a more reliable method of measuring the impact of the natural enemies of aphids (parasitoid wasps, lady beetle adults and larvae, etc.) on yield production.


In the 2022-2023 growing seasons, OSU IPM scientists will sample 54-108 fields in diverse growing conditions every seven to 14 days during typical infestation periods to document the validity of sorghum thresholds to SCA and NE infestations. This will optimize knowing if and/or  when insecticide intervention is needed.


During the study, they will also evaluate the role of hybrid resistance, presence of non-pest aphids and selected environmental variables in small-to-large agricultural landscapes. 


Through this research, scientists will modify a currently available smartphone application for SCA sampling and management decisions to include NE counts and subsequent management recommendations based on predictable suppression of SCA.

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