SRA’s varieties are central to helping make the Australian sugarcane industry more productive, sustainable and competitive.

We have developed our varieties using conventional sugarcane breeding and selection processes that apply plant molecular biology, transgenic technology and plant functional biology. Parents with valuable traits are used for cross-pollination and are selected from our vast germplasm collection. This collection includes Q-varieties, clones from previous crosses, ‘wild’ and foreign varieties. More than 2000 crosses are made annually at our Meringa breeding station, using parents grown in the field or in our three photoperiod facilities.

Our breeding objective is to maximise whole-of-industry profitability for sugar production. To achieve this, we have developed an optimal genetic evaluation system using a selection index based on genetic and economic values of all important traits. Each year, we plant about 100,000 new potential varieties as seedlings in the first stage of the program. With our world-class expertise in this area, we have released over 250 varieties in the past that have improved productivity, disease resistance and/or improved milling and sugar quality. We collaborate with growers, productivity boards and millers to encourage the adoption of our new varieties.

Tissue Culture

Tissue culture plantlets are produced from disease-free plants and grown under sterile conditions in the laboratory to ensure they remain disease-free. Their use has been shown to reduce the spread of serious diseases such as ratoon stunting disease, smut and Fiji leaf gall.

With the right care the survival rate of tissue-cultured plantlets is very high, creating uniform crops and allowing the commercial-scale planting of a new variety, sooner. Once you have identified the best varieties for planting on your farm, contact your local productivity services group to place orders for plantlets.

To help estimate how many tissue-cultured plantlets you should order use our calculator.

Ordering Deadlines

Stage Deadline for autumn planting Deadline for spring planting
Productivity Board places order to SRA 1 July 15 November
SRA delivers Mother Stock to Tissue Culture Company (TCC) 15 September 1 February
TCC supplies plantlets to Nursery for potting out/hardening 1 February 1 June (North)

15 June (South)

Grower/Productivity Board receives established plantlets from Nursery Agreed date between Grower/Productivity
Board and SRA
Agreed date between Productivity Board and SRA

Variety exchange

SRA facilitates the import and export of sugarcane germplasm for Australia in a variety exchange program. The program aims to diversify the germplasm available for sugarcane breeders to enable continuous improvement of released varieties for the Australian industry.

Over the past five years SRA has exchanged varieties with countries such as Brazil, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Argentina, Guatemala and the United States of America. We also have arrangements with Visacane (CIRAD, France) for exchange with Reunion, Barbados and Guadeloupe.

We aim to import foreign varieties that have performed well in their original countries, have desirable traits, and/or pest and disease resistance for exotic pathogens. Past studies have identified that about 40 percent of the varieties released by SRA have one or more foreign varieties as a parent.

In order to facilitate safe exchange, SRA has an Australian Government Approved Post Entry Quarantine Facility at our Indooroopilly site, which can accommodate importing up to 50 varieties per year from partner organisations. The varieties undergo extensive pest and disease screening to ensure that no exotic diseases are present, before they are released to the breeding program for analysis and use as parents. SRA also maintains a collection of Australian varieties for export that have been tested for and found free from Australian pests and diseases.

Variety exchange is usually done once per year with 5-10 varieties exchanged with partner organisations.

For more information and enquiries about variety exchange please contact Dr George Piperidis (Leader of Crossing & Selection) gpiperidis@sugarresearch.com.au  or Dr Nicole Thompson (Senior Quarantine Pathologist) nthompson@sugarresearch.com.au