Economics of the Mexican Rice Borer

Linda Benedict, Pollet, Dale K.  |  4/19/2005 12:08:57 AM

Francis P.F. Reay-Jones, Dale K. Pollet and Ben Legendre

The Mexican rice borer was first detected in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas in 1980. The insect caused yield reductions in sugarcane of up to 50 percent before the end of that year and now represents more than 95 percent of the sugarcane stalk borer population in the valley.

Surveys in commercial sugarcane fields during the early 1980s showed an average of 62 percent bored internodes because of Mexican rice borer damage, and some fields were not harvested because yield reductions were greater than expected returns. Following the first year of discovery, management efforts resulted in a gradual reduction in damage to an average of 26 percent bored internodes by the end of the decade. Since then, the averages are around 20 percent.

For nearly two decades, Texas A&M scientists focused on biological control, importing exotic parasites for mass release. Estimates of the effects of borer damage on revenue, based on a 20 percent level of bored internodes, were determined to be $233 per acre when considering the producer’s loss, and as much as $478 per acre when considering the effect on all involved parties (producer and mill).

In rice, yield losses in certain replicated experiments conducted in the Texas Rice Belt have exceeded 50 percent, with especially severe damage in the ratoon crop. This insect, referred to locally as the “nightmare that we don’t want in Louisiana,” may become real anyway; thus, our efforts are focused on doing all things possible to delay this reality.

Read related article:
Slowing Down the Mexican Rice Borer 

(This article appeared in the winter 2005 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

Francis P.F. Reay-Jones, Dale K. Pollet and Ben Legendre

The Mexican rice borer was first detected in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas in 1980. The insect caused yield reductions in sugarcane of up to 50 percent before the end of that year and now represents more than 95 percent of the sugarcane stalk borer population in the valley.

Surveys in commercial sugarcane fields during the early 1980s showed an average of 62 percent bored internodes because of Mexican rice borer damage, and some fields were not harvested because yield reductions were greater than expected returns. Following the first year of discovery, management efforts resulted in a gradual reduction in damage to an average of 26 percent bored internodes by the end of the decade. Since then, the averages are around 20 percent.

For nearly two decades, Texas A&M scientists focused on biological control, importing exotic parasites for mass release. Estimates of the effects of borer damage on revenue, based on a 20 percent level of bored internodes, were determined to be $233 per acre when considering the producer’s loss, and as much as $478 per acre when considering the effect on all involved parties (producer and mill).

In rice, yield losses in certain replicated experiments conducted in the Texas Rice Belt have exceeded 50 percent, with especially severe damage in the ratoon crop. This insect, referred to locally as the “nightmare that we don’t want in Louisiana,” may become real anyway; thus, our efforts are focused on doing all things possible to delay this reality.

Read related article:
Slowing Down the Mexican Rice Borer 

(This article appeared in the winter 2005 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

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