14 March, 2016
Sugar Research Australia (SRA) has observed that a sugarcane crop near Maryborough has demonstrated symptoms that are comparable to Yellow Canopy Syndrome (YCS) experienced in northern sugarcane growing regions.
SRA Executive Manager for Strategic Initiatives, Dr Frikkie Botha, said that the local industry should be aware of this observation, but also emphasised that there was no need for panic.
YCS is a relatively new condition that was first officially observed in Far North Queensland in 2012. It had previously been observed in all sugarcane growing regions from Sarina to north of Cairns.
It is an unknown condition that has a varying impact upon sugarcane yields, ranging from moderate to severe, in select cases.
Dr Botha said that Wide Bay farmers should be reassured that their Industry Owned Corporation for research, SRA, was already in the midst of a large research investment into solving the YCS mystery.
“SRA, along with the Queensland Government, is making a $7 million research investment into YCS,” Dr Botha said. “This involves four major research projects, which are focussed on both determining the cause of YCS and also investigating management options for it.
“The observation at Maryborough demonstrates the need for continued research into YCS.
“We will use all information, including the observation at Maryborough, to help inform our research and progress closer toward understanding YCS.
“This is disappointing news for the local industry, but it is not unexpected. It is not a cause for panic. It is also worth remembering that the Wide Bay region has had some very useful rain over the summer, and thanks to that the crop is looking promising.
“SRA continues to keep the entire sugarcane industry informed about research activities about YCS through various publications, newsletters, and the SRA website.
“If growers have individual concerns, they should contact their productivity services organisation. There is no need for growers to change anything regarding their farm operations.
“Your SRA Board remains committed to solving YCS and had the entire research programme reviewed by a panel of independent panel of experts in November last year to ensure the program was delivering outcomes.
“That panel concluded: The research effort has been strong, but the cause of YCS has not been determined. Moreover, the symptoms of YCS need to be defined better so that YCS can be truly distinguished from other leaf yellowing and other conditions that impact upon sugarcane yield.”
Media contact: SRA Executive Manager, Communications Brad Pfeffer 0419 175 815.