Sweet success in sugarcane breeding program

New sugarcane variety for Burdekin


Catherine Kettle (SRA) and Terry Morgan (Wilmar) check out the new sugarcane variety in the Burdekin. Photo: Wilmar.

Catherine Kettle (SRA) and Terry Morgan (Wilmar) check out the new sugarcane variety in the Burdekin. Photo: Wilmar.

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A new variety of sugarcane has been approved for growers in the Burdekin.

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A NEW variety of sugarcane has been approved for growers in the Burdekin.

The new breed is a hybrid of two popular varieties that were also created on the Burdekin.

The variety is named WSRA17 after its joint developers, Wilmar Sugar and Sugar Research Australia (SRA), and is the first to carry the ‘WSRA’ prefix since the naming convention for new sugarcane varieties changed in 2015.

WSRA17’s parents are TellusA and Q208A, which was the most popular Australian variety in 2017 and represented 30 percent of the entire Australian sugarcane crop.

“WSRA17 is unusual because it came from a cross that occurred under field conditions in a block of commercial cane,” Wilmar Sugar Technical Field Officer Terry Morgan said.

“We really mined that cross. We grew in excess of 3000 seedlings from the cross, and that is where this new variety came from.”

Mr Morgan said the variety had shown promise in field trials.

SRA Variety Officer for the Burdekin Catherine Kettle said WSRA17 produced good tonnes per hectare when compared to standard commercial varieties in trials (Q183A, Q208A and KQ228A).

Ms Kettle said that while its commercial cane sugar (CCS) was slightly lower than comparison varieties in trials, it was resistant to leaf scald, and was intermediate/susceptible to sugarcane smut.

Burdekin Productivity Services Manager Rob Milla said from the data seen to date, the variety had good commercial prospects due to its yield performance and leaf scald resistance.

Mr Milla said local industry would continue to keep a close eye on WSRA17’s response to smut in the Burdekin, which so far had been reasonable.

The local response led to the Burdekin Regional Variety Committee to approve the release of the variety.

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