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Transform approved in 10 states to treat sugarcane aphids

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Sulfoxaflor, the active ingredient in Transform WG—a Dow AgroSciences product—now has government approval for use in 10 states to treat sugarcane aphids in grain sorghum.

Following last month’s approval for use of sulfoxaflor in Texas, sorghum farmers in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee now have another tool available to fight the pest. The 2016 authorization includes new restrictions related to preventing exposure to bees, including a prohibition on the application of Transform from three days prior to bloom to seed set.

“Sorghum farmers in these states are now better equipped to control the sugarcane aphid and have a better opportunity to mitigate yield and revenues loss,” said Tim Lust, National Sorghum Producers CEO. “NSP thanks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their approval of this important crop protection tool, which augments industry efforts to develop better management practices and resources to meet this challenge.”

Lust said NSP has been working closely with the EPA for months on the process, even going through the formal comment period with the Texas proposal and working to get it approved.

“On this package of additional states, we’ve been working with the agency for the last three weeks to work for this,” Lust said. “So certainly we expected it, and from a timing standpoint certainly needed for many of our southeast states in particular as they are approaching the time period where they would potentially need the product.”

There was some concern about whether or not it would be approved, but after the 2015 lawsuit on sulfoxaflor, Lust said.

“I think we’re always concerned about would it or would it not change,” he said. “So I think there was certainly concern there. Just happy to see it approved and for producers to have that option.”

Lust is unsure for a 2017 approval at this point, but thinks if EPA is able to get through the data from the lawsuit and get approvals back, there’s hope.

“It’s a little bit too early to say whether there could be a full label back next year or not,” he said. “Or whether we would have to have a section 18 again.”

This season, the sugarcane aphid was found in low populations early in South Texas and recently as far north as the lower Texas Panhandle. Some growers in South Texas have begun spraying for the sugarcane aphid, reporting success in managing these populations in their fields as well as seeing an increase in beneficial insect numbers.

“This is much farther north and earlier than what was observed in Texas in 2015,” said Brent Bean, Sorghum Checkoff agronomist. “Although this is concerning, it does not give us any indication of how serious the sugarcane aphid may be this season. What it does mean is that growers will need to be diligent in following best management practices for managing the sugarcane aphid.”

To protect sorghum from potential early season infestations, the Sorghum Checkoff advises growers to consider planting seeds treated with an insecticide seed treatment, which should give up to 40 days of sugarcane aphid control. In addition, several commercial hybrids are being sold that have some degree of tolerance to the sugarcane aphid.

Once a region becomes infested with sugarcane aphids, fields should be scouted at least once a week for signs of the aphid and two to three times per week once discovered. Threshold levels may change depending on the growth stage of the sorghum and vary between regions. It is important to check with local experts to determine regional thresholds before applying insecticide. Two products proved to be very effective during the 2015 growing season—Sivanto Prime by Bayer CropScience and Transform.

“It is extremely important to have multiple products available to treat the sugarcane aphid,” Bean said. “By rotating chemistries, we can avoid insecticide resistance and maintain control of the pest.

For additional resources, including best management practices, tolerant hybrids, scouting recommendations and more, visit sorghumcheckoff.com.

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