A Queensland sugar researcher says finding Yellow Canopy Syndrome (YCS) in the southern region may help speed up research into the mysterious condition.
Sugar Research Australia said it had now identified YCS cases in Bundaberg, Maryborough and the Isis District, though not on the same scale as can be found in Queensland’s north.
Executive manager of strategic initiatives Dr Frikkie Botha said the discovery gave researchers and growers a chance to be disciplined in the investigation of the cause and spread of the condition.
“One of the things we’re really trying to do in the southern region is to get discipline into the identification of YCS, that we don’t call it YCS if it’s not … there’s a lot of things that make cane go yellow at this time of year,” he said.
“The fact that we have it in the south is an interesting starting point for us, because if we do apply this discipline we will get much more accurate data here on how it moves, if it moves.
“At the same time it’s also very convenient for us in Brisbane to do trials and collect material in the south, it’s just much easier to get to Maryborough for example and do a trial.”
He said in the first two years after the syndrome was found in northern regions, inexperience dealing with the newly emerged condition meant samples were not as accurate as they could have been.
Working in tropical conditions also provided challenges for researchers.
“Many times we are planning to execute a task in the north and then the weather comes in and these heavy rainfalls in the north mean we abandon the trial,” he said.
“Taking that YCS symptoms are really prevalent January to April and it’s difficult to do YCS work later in the year, timing is crucial to us.
“If we lose two or three plant trials in a season it’s a big setback, so I think in the south we stand a better chance not to lose those trials.”
Dr Botha said the team would also be looking at YCS in the Q240 variety, which was an excellent performer in last year’s crush.
“That’s a major shift for us, we are now focussing much stronger on varieties,” he said.
“I must really emphasise that to this point we have no indication that there’s varietal differences in response to YCS it’s just easier to spot YCS in some varieties.
“Q240, just because it has very wide leaves, exhibit the YCS very very well when it does pick it up.
“Q240 will remain a dominant variety for many years to come, it’s such an excellent variety … it’s one of our flagship varieties at the moment.”
Source – ABC