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A new pest continues to spread its way to fields in many areas of the U.S. The sugarcane aphid, which attacks forage sorghum, grain sorghum and sorghum-sudangrass, causes yield loss, uneven or lack of head emergence, poor grain set, increased lodging and more.

Sugarcane aphid on underside of sorghum leaf. Sugarcane aphids are destroying fields of sorghum and sorghum-sudangrass across the U.S

Feeding sugarcane aphids remove nutrients used for plant health and grain yield. This, along with secondary diseases, causes sorghum leaves to die. Without proper hybrid selection and scouting practices, this pest can cause up to 100 percent yield loss. In addition, it leaves behind a shiny, sticky honeydew that creates a mess on hands and equipment.

Summer annual breeders are working to develop plants with resistance to this insect. While some grain hybrids now have sugarcane aphid tolerance, limited options exist for sorghum-type forage.

To address this, La Crosse Seed has partnered with top breeders to acquire what it believes to be the best products for forage and grain producers to combat sugarcane aphids and other challenges.

Honeydew left behind from sugarcane aphid

One such product is the Summer Select™ Hercules BMR BD Pearl Millet. Released in 2016, the response to this multi-cut summer annual “has been very positive,” per Chris McCracken, director of business development at La Crosse Seed.

After numerous trials and side-by-side comparisons with sorghum-sudangrass, Hercules BMR BD has not only demonstrated similar yields, but has also displayed sugarcane aphid resistance plus higher digestibility and energy.

For producers looking to maximize productivity while also reducing cost, this improved summer annual has a lower seed cost than sorghum-sudangrass. “Today, Hercules represents average seed cost savings of $12 per acre,” said McCracken. “It is a fantastic alternative for producers in need of economical, efficient forage.”

Top view of Hercules BMR BD Pearl Millet

Additional advantages to the hybrid pearl millet include:
  • Faster emergence and regrowth.
  • Brachytic dwarf structure for improved standability and management.
  • Dry stalk technology for improved drying time.
  • Flexibility to handle a larger range of soil types than sorghum-sudangrass.
  • No prussic acid concerns.
The company also recently released four new grain sorghum hybrids under its Summer Select summer annual portfolio; two of which exhibit natural tolerance to sugarcane aphid.

Comparison of regrowth after three days between sorghum-sudangrass (left) and Hercules BMR BD (right)

Hybrid pearl millets are tolerant to sugarcane aphid, yet provide comparable tonnage with tremendous quality

More information on Summer Select products can be found at

About La Crosse Seed

La Crosse Seed has paired an unmatched portfolio of high quality forage, cover crop and turf seed with knowledgeable and experienced sales and support staff since 1947. Please call (800) 356-7333 or visit to learn more about its products and services or to find a regional sales manager.