LSU AgCenter entomologist Gene Reagan also warned farmers that detection of the Mexican rice borer in Louisiana is a threat to Louisiana’s cane crop. The insect was found in a monitoring trap six miles southwest of Sulphur in a non-crop area. 

Reagan said more of the borers have been found in the same area since then, but no one has found indications that the insect has migrated further eastward. More monitors will be set out in Calcasieu Parish.

Since the 1980s, entomologists have been monitoring the borer’s spread from south Texas in sugarcane and rice.

Several sugarcane varieties have been tested for resistance to the Mexican rice borer, Reagan said, and many are showing positive results, including three South African varieties.

A new sugarcane variety released this year, LO3-371, shows promise, said LSU AgCenter sugarcane specialist Kenneth Gravois. “Seed of 371 was distributed this past summer. We’ve got a few varieties coming down the pipeline.”

Another new variety may be approved for release this year, he said. But HoCP 96-540 and L 99-226 are still good choices for farmers.

Cold weather last year helped suppress rust diseases on sugarcane, and the same thing could happen this year, Gravois said. “Rust needs green living tissue to survive. The recent freezes have helped in that regard.”