Bugs smack sorghum around

Rutherglen bugs damage national sorghum crop


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Rutherglen bugs have caused significant damage to the national sorghum crop.

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Rutherglen bugs have wreaked havoc on sorghum crops through northern Australia this season.

Rutherglen bugs have wreaked havoc on sorghum crops through northern Australia this season.

SORGHUM crops across northern Australia could not take a trick this season.

Not only was there record heat, which saw many centres record close to six weeks of consecutive days above 35 degrees or the moisture deficit where areas did not receive rainfall above 20mm from October onwards, but pests also caused brutal damage to crops.

Warra, north-west of Dalby, farmer Brendan Taylor said an infestation of Rutherglen bugs had caused locally severe damage to sorghum crops.

“There were widespread quality issues that people are putting down to Rutherglen bugs, which were around in really significant numbers this season.”

The bugs feed on the seed of the sorghum plant, causing issues with grain test weight.

Mr Taylor said the pests were frustrating, because the synthetic pyrethroid insecticides recommended for control of Rutherglen bugs had not been effective this year.

“There were multiple applications of insecticide and it was just not working, people will now be looking at other options, whether it be an organo-phosphate insecticide or whatever is registered.”

Officials believe the plague of Rutherglen bugs this summer had its root in the unseasonably wet Queensland and northern NSW spring, which provided good conditions for bug numbers to build up.

Not only did the bugs damage sorghum and sunflower, its traditional targets, but a range of other summer crop species.

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