Sorghum head bug, Calocoris angustatus Leth. (Hemiptera: Miridae) is an important insect pest of sorghum in the semi-arid tropics. A technique to screen for resistance to head bugs under field conditions was tested. Planting infester rows of susceptible cultivars (CSH 1 or CSH 5), 20 days before the test material or planting early (40–45 days) flowering lines (IS 802, IS 13429 and IS 24439) along with the test material, split planting of test material at 15-day intervals, grouping test material according to maturity, and use of sprinkler irrigation to maintain high humidity, were found effective in increasing the efficiency of screening and selecting for resistance to head bugs.
A headcage technique to screen for resistance under no-choice conditions has also been developed. Panicles infested with 10 pairs of bugs at pre- and half-anthesis, result in maximum population build-up and grain damage under headcage. This technique is useful for confirming the resistance observed under field conditions.
Under natural infestation, five genotypes harboured relatively lower head bug numbers than the susceptible checks, but only three (IS 17610, IS 17618 and IS 17645) maintained their level of resistance under the headcage. Seed germination was > 70% in these genotypes compared to < 10% in CSH 1 and CSH 5.