New focus for breeding program to deliver optimum cane varieties into the future

Date Posted

17 August, 2015

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An industry reference group has worked with Sugar Research Australia’s (SRA) sugarcane breeding program to ensure that future sugarcane varieties deliver characteristics that will improve grower and miller profitability.

The group of 12 people, appointed by the Australian Sugar Industry Alliance (ASA), have reviewed how individual traits of sugarcane varieties (such as CCS, tonnes of cane, disease resistance, and others) are weighted in the industry’s variety development program.

Selecting and delivering the best possible varieties are based on each of these traits having an economic value.

“Growers and millers have come together through this group to consider the weightings of traits for the breeding program, and this group has now told SRA what they want implemented as part of these changes,” SRA Executive Manager for Development, Dr Peter Allsopp, said.

“This group has told us that the breeding program must maximise profitability for the entire industry and, with this as their focus, they have endorsed specific changes to the weightings of traits.”

Notable changes to the weightings are the inclusion of a ratoonability index and more emphasis on cane yield.

“This reflects the different production environment to the early 2000s, where now many mills have excess capacity and it makes economic sense to utilise that capacity,” Dr Allsopp said. “The overall focus is on maximising profit to the industry.”

The review considered a range of important issues and specific traits and the weightings have been tailored to the specific needs of local industry (Northern, Herbert, Burdekin, Central, and Southern Queensland, with northern NSW yet to be finalised).

This information is being communicated with growers and millers throughout the second half of 2015.

The SRA plant breeding program continues to be a core component of SRA’s R&D investment and has the aim of delivering optimum economic outcomes for sugarcane growers and millers.

SRA media contact: Brad Pfeffer 0419 175 815.

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