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County soybean farmers May have to battle the aphid

County soybean farmers may have to square off with a potentially new number-one enemy.

Wednesday, August 01, 2001

County soybean farmers may have to square off with a potentially new number-one enemy. Ohio State University agriculture scientists have identified the soybean aphid in the state.

The aphid was first identified in the United States last year and so far has been found in northwest, northeast and southwest Ohio. The aphid has also been identified in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota.

OSU entomologist Ron Hammond said the bug is the "first aphid known to colonize soybeans in this country." He added that "we know very little about the insect. This is a fairly new thing, so we have no idea what will happen if it becomes a real problem. It’s causing some concern for growers."

The aphid is called a "sapsucker" and feeds on the plant causing stunting, yellowing of the plant and leaf distortion. OSU scientist say if enough aphids attack the plant the soybean then loses vigor leading to a reduction in the crop yield.

The aphid comes from Asia and, Hammond believes, came to the U.S. via plant transports.

"It’s pretty widespread throughout the Midwest now," Hammond said. "We think it may have been here for about five or six years…we just haven’t found it until now."

Hammond said he is beginning to increase the research area. Researchers will begin to check the Scioto River Valley for aphids in August. So far, Hammond said, the aphids have been found in all 40 counties checked, but not all fields show heavy populations of the the crop-infesting bugs.

"We’re making the assumption we will find the aphids in every county," the researcher said.

He added researchers are looking at ways to stop the aphid from spreading, but not enough information is known about the insect. So far, researchers are not recommending any form of treatment.

Hammond said anyone finding aphids are urged to contact his office at (330) 263-3727.

"At this point in time, we are definitely recommending a ‘wait-and-see attitude,’ but growers need to be aware there may be a potential pest on the horizon," Hammond said. "We want to stay on top of the situation and not get caught holding the bag come August if problems do develop."