Sugar Research Australia to help with cane varieties

THE newly formed Sugar Research Australia (SRA) is already showing determination to see reform in the research sector of the industry by supporting and taking steps to join with the Australian Sugar Alliance (ASA) in setting up working groups to look at changes to the selection method of cane varieties.

Growers and millers in recent years have voiced their concerns about the performance of some varieties in the field, as well as in the milling process, due to changes made in 2006 to the selection criteria process.

We believe, through industry consultation with plant breeders, that there are some varieties that could not progress through the stages to release for commercial production because they have not met the criteria of the new (2006) selection process.

The current criteria are very much focused on CCS and commercial value, whereas the former process had a broader focus on cane and sugar yield, as well as disease and pest resistance, ratoon ability and growth vigour.

A review of our plant selection criteria, we hope, will streamline the process and put equal importance on economic value, such as the CCS content, as well as other important crop characteristics.

The aim of these working groups is for millers and growers to work with plant breeding technologists and PEC management to establish a project and work plan to undertake a review of these selection processes.

This step forward to an enhanced variety selection process gives me assurance as a grower that SRA already is moving in the right direction.

The outcomes of this project, in turn, will feed down to a grassroots level and greatly benefit the sugar industry's overall profitability and sustainability.

We believe this will be achieved with options available to growers to make individual decisions about varieties and their characteristics better to enhance their productivity and risk management.

I look forward to seeing these working groups established - an interim group already has been formed to progress the project - and I look forward to following the working groups' progress to reach some industry-wide beneficial outcomes.

- Kevin Borg, Chairman,


Canegrowers Mackay.

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