Fresh cane va­ri­eties ready for plant­ing

New va­ri­eties to boost dis­ease re­sis­tance

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - GEORDI OFFORD Geordi.offord@ru­ral­

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.

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