Fresh cane varieties ready for planting
New varieties to boost disease resistance
AGRICULTURAL industries are always looking to improve and for the sugar sector, one way of doing that is to introduce varieties.
SRA12 and SRA13 have been approved for release for use between Sarina and Proserpine. Canegrowers Mackay chairman Kevin Borg said new varieties were always good for growers.
“It helps us get on top of issues such as the pachymetra disease and drought resistance,” Mr Borg said.
“There was a really good variety a few years ago called the Q124 but it got wiped out by orange rust.
“Ever since then we’ve been trying to get a variety as good as 124, but I think a variety like that is a once-in-alifetime thing.”
Mr Borg said although the varieties looked good on paper, the real test was in the paddock.
“The varieties don’t always work for everyone,” he said.
“You’ve got to give them a go to see if they will work under your soil type and also your growing methods.
“Some growers watch the neighbours and go off what’s happening next door but just because it’s working there, doesn’t mean it’ll work for them.”
He said it was important the varieties work for both grower and miller.
“There’s no use growing a variety that can’t be milled,” he said.
“As an industry we need to shorten the amount of downtime in the mills so we can maximise what we can get out of the crop.
“We’ve had a few come through the system recently that haven’t been millable varieties.”
Mr Borg said, as a grower himself, he was keen to try the new varieties on his dryland operation.
“I look for fibre, sugar content and the ratoonability of the plant,” he said.
“Being a dry-land farmer I don’t have any irrigation so ratoon after harvest and germination after planting are big ones.”
Sugar Research Australia leader for crossing and selection Dr George Piperidis said introducing varieties was important for the industry.
“New varieties are essential for the productivity, profitability, and sustainability of sugarcane growers and millers,” Dr Piperidis said. “Cane varieties only have a certain lifespan and that’s why it’s important to have a constant supply of new varieties, to fill the space when a variety loses its vigour.
“The breeding process is quite long; these two varieties took about 13 years to develop from start to release.”
He said the new varieties brought a lot of benefits to the grower.
“One of the benefits is good disease resistance,” he said.
“These two varieties showed good resistance to pachymetra root rot, which is a common problem in the Sarina to Proserpine areas.”
Dr Piperidis said the varieties also needed to be acceptable for the sugar mills.
“It’s important that varieties can be milled efficiently and they have acceptable sugar and fibre characteristics, they need to be suitable for the growers and the millers,” he said.
“We use field and lab tests to give an indication of how a new variety might perform in the commercial fields and milling process.”
❝ Ever since then we’ve been trying to get a variety as good as 124, but I think a variety such as it is a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
— Kevin Borg
GOOD PROSPECTS: Dr George Piperidis said new varieties helped fill the space left by cane varieties that had reached their lifespan.