- Associated Press - Saturday, July 19, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Aphids that have plagued Louisiana sugarcane fields have spread to the state’s sorghum crop.

LSU AgCenter Entomologist David Kerns said the pests first showed up in cane fields in 1991 and are now causing significant damage in sorghum fields.

Last year, the aphids were found in Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi. They have since spread across much of Mississippi and into Arkansas, Kerns said.

The aphids produce a sticky dew that collects on sorghum and clogs combine harvesters and could mean a reduction in yields. The sorghum harvest in Louisiana begins in late July and runs through September.

Aphids feed on carbohydrates, amino acids and moisture, which are critical to plant growth and grain production. In dry conditions, the effects are even worse.

Sugarcane aphids multiply extremely quickly. Kerns said small pockets of aphids can expand to a very large population within five to seven days.

Several companies and universities, including the LSU AgCenter, are screening sorghum varieties for resistance to sugarcane aphids, Kerns said.

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