The Mexican rice borer, Eoreuma loftini (Dyar) (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) is an invasive stem borer of sugarcane, Saccharum spp., and sorghum, Sorghum bicolor (L.), and poses a threat against the production of dedicated bioenergy feedstocks in the U.S. Gulf Coast region. A 2-yr field study was conducted in Jefferson County, TX, to evaluate yield losses associated with E. loftini feeding on bioenergy and conventional cultivars of sugarcane and sorghum under natural and artificially established E. loftini infestations. Bioenergy sugarcane (energycane) ‘L 79-1002' and ‘Ho 02-113' and sweet sorghum ‘M81E' exhibited reduced E. loftini injury; however, these cultivars, along with high-biomass sorghum cultivar ‘ES 5140', sustained greater losses in fresh stalk weight. Negative impacts to sucrose concentration from E. loftini injury were greatest in energycane, high-biomass sorghum, and sweet sorghum cultivars. Even under heavy E. loftini infestations, L 79-1002, Ho 02-113, and ‘ES 5200' were estimated to produce more ethanol than all other cultivars under suppressed infestations. ES 5200, Ho 02-113, and L 79-1002 hold the greatest potential as dedicated bioenergy crops for production of ethanol in the Gulf Coast region; however, E. loftini management practices will need to be continued to mitigate yield losses.
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Vol. 108 • No. 5