KDA Rushes Pesticide Approval To Save Sweet Sorghum Crop

Jun 26, 2017

Sugarcane Aphid
Credit Michasia Dowdy, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org, CC 3.0

  A pesticide to combat the sugarcane aphid has received emergency exemption status in hopes of protecting Kentucky’s sweet sorghum industry.  Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) Commissioner Ryan Quarles issued a crisis declaration to the EPA to rush approval of Sivanto Prime.


KDA Division of Environmental Services Director David Wayne says an influx of the aphid is expected to arrive from the southwest again after devastating most of last year’s harvest.


“There were estimates the first year that this pest came into Kentucky that some growers had 100 percent loss.” Wayne said.


According to the University of Kentucky, the aphids arrived a month earlier in 2016 than the previous season and accounted for 30 - 50 percent crop loss in several states across the U.S.


The sense of urgency following from previous years’ losses contributed to Sivanto Prime’s speedy emergency exemption well before this year’s aphids arrive.


Wayne says sugarcane aphids stress the plant by eating the leaves.


According to the UK College of Agriculture Food and Environment newsletter:

“Sugarcane aphids can be identified by their grey to tan yellow body color. Sugarcane aphids feed on the lower surface of the leaves, and their feeding produces yellow to red or brown leaf discoloration, which is visible on both sides of the leaf.”


An adult sugar cane aphid (pink arrow) and first instar nymphs (blue arrows) detected on a sweet sorghum field in Trigg County, KY on 07/15/16.
Credit Raul T. Villanueva, University of Kentucky

  If Sivanto Prime is applied to the crop, he says growers must report that use to the KDA.


“All they have to do is report the amount of area treated and the amount of product used,” said Wayne.


The KDA then reports the information back to the EPA. The main production value of sweet sorghum is molasses. Wayne says Kentucky is the primary producer of the crop in the U.S.