Be On the Lookout for Soybean Aphid This Season

Published on: 12:02PM Apr 26, 2011

Dr. Roy Boykin

Of the pests that rob your soybean yield each year, soybean aphids pose one of the greatest potential threats. In what is now a consistent problem for many soybean growers in the Midwest, soybean aphids make their presence known by significantly lowering yields and profits with impact on both soybean quality and quantity. After a few years of following a cyclical pattern of high populations one year followed by low populations the next, the insect has become more unpredictable, leaving growers guessing what to expect from season to season.

However, researchers agree that the most important factor in determining soybean aphid levels this year is the type of weather conditions during the spring and summer months.
Mike Gray, entomologist at the University of Illinois Extension, confirms, “If it’s very hot, as it was last summer across the Midwest, the soybean aphid population just will not thrive.”
Erin Hodgson, an Iowa State University Extension entomologist, agrees. “At the time when the aphid eggs hatch in the spring, their success will depend on the temperature of their environment,” says Hodgson. “It will depend on what’s happening as far as weather and moisture in the spring and summer.”
As challenging as it can be to predict what is in store each season, the importance of protecting against the damage from soybean aphids is critical. According to the American Society of Agronomy, plant injury caused by sap-feeding insects, such as soybean aphids, can cause up to a 75 percent loss in yield. The best way to manage the soybean aphid is to know more about what kind of damage it can cause, know when to scout and carefully time foliar insecticide applications if treatments are warranted. 
Soybean aphids are capable of exponential growth rates that can be rapidly detrimental to soybean yields. When left unmanaged populations can double every 2-3 days if conditions are favorable. Soybean aphid development is best between 72 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit, with the optimal temperature for reproduction and population growth estimated at 82 degrees. Keep these temperatures in mind over the coming months to help determine the probability of an aphid outbreak in your area. 

Regular scouting is still the best way to protect your yield, but once thresholds have been reached, immediate action is necessary to avoid significant economic injury. Give your fields the best protection from soybean aphids by selecting an insecticide with three industry-leading technologies that offers long residual control for higher potential yield and profit.

Dr. Roy Boykin, Senior Technical Brand Manager, Insecticides, Syngenta Crop Protection
Roy is responsible for the technical development, positioning and product life cycle management of insecticides for all business units in the NAFTA Region. Roy received his undergraduate education at the College of Charleston with majors in biology and business and received his master’s/doctorate degrees in entomology with minors in plant pathology and crop science from North Carolina State University.