Development of Economic Thresholds for Sugarcane Aphid (Hemiptera: Aphididae) in Susceptible Grain Sorghum Hybrids.
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Sugarcane aphid, Melanaphis sacchari Zehtner (Hemiptera: Aphididae), outbreaks on grain sorghum were first detected in the United States in 2013. The spread of sugarcane aphid across the sorghum-producing regions of North America necessitated increased insecticide use to mitigate economic loss. A field experiment to develop economic thresholds for sugarcane aphid was conducted 15 times across seven locations across the southern United States during 3 yr (2014-2016). Grain sorghum hybrids were evaluated by measuring yield in response to a range of aphid infestations. Yield-aphid population density relationships were described by linear function, which facilitated calculating economic injury levels and economic thresholds. The slopes of the yield-aphid density regressions were significant, negative, and relatively stable across locations, years, and agronomic conditions. The relationships aggregated into two groups, populations that exhibited relatively slow and fast population growth, and common economic injury levels were determined using control costs and market values of grain. Average economic injury levels of 37 and 102 aphids per leaf were most applicable to the two groupings of sorghum/aphid relationships and aphid population growth. Using field-based sugarcane aphid population doubling time estimated from weekly observations of aphid densities, economic thresholds were calculated, ranging from 19 to 132 aphids per leaf across the 15 locations-years. Without site-specific knowledge of a slow-growing aphid population and given cost and market price variability of the system, a 40 aphid per leaf threshold is most prudent to use across the range of hybrid, environmental, and market conditions experienced in this study.