Sugar Industry Threatened by Monsters
Well, yes and no. The threat is real, but the “monsters” all fit in the palm of your hand, but are a threat nonetheless! In the spirit of Halloween, I am, of course, talking about insects, pests that, if left to their own devices, are capable of decimating or completely eliminating the value of an entire sugarcane crop.
How many insects represent a threat to sugarcane? Here is a partial list:
• Abacarussacchari (sugarcane rust mite)
• Diaprepesabbreviatus (sugarcane root weevil)
• Diatraeasaccharalis (sugarcane borer)
• Elasmopalpuslignosellus (Lesser cornstalk borer)
• Eoreumaloftini (Mexican rice borer)
• Leptodictyatabida (sugarcane lace bug)
• Melanaphissacchari (white sugarcane aphid)
• Melanotuscommunis (Corn wireworm)
• Metamasiushemipter ussericeus (silky weevil)
• Oligonychuspratensis (banks grass mite)
• Siphaflava (yellow sugarcane aphid)
• Tomarus subtropicus (sugarcane grub)
Preventing these and many other pests requires diligent monitoring of cane fields, prompt treatment when affected areas are spotted, and collaboration with universities and research centers when treatment results differ from the expected. All of these activities are part of the farmers’ cost of doing business, in an economy where the price of sugar, as a commodity, is about a third of what it was 5 years ago. The cost of insecticides and fertilizers, on the other hand, continues to go up.
So you can imagine the nightmares that sugarcane farmers and sugar producers have at night, thinking about how threatened their industry really is.
Luis Ayala, Editor and Publisher