With the Far North Queensland cane crush nearing the half-way mark, MSF Sugar is keeping a close watch on the performance of various cane varieties through its three northern mills.
At the MSF Sugar-owned South Johnstone, Mulgrave and Tableland mills, a number of traditional and new cane varieties are performing strongly this season.
Figures show that Q208 – a staple of the industry – currently accounts for the majority of cane crushed to date at all three mills. However, there are some differences starting to appear across the milling locations.
At the Tableland Mill, MSF Sugar Mulgrave Cane Productivity Coordinator Matt Hession said KQ228 was dominating the crush, with the variety producing above average cane yield and CCS (sugar content) when harvested early in the season.
“KQ228 has consistently performed well on the Tablelands season to season, where water requirements can be managed and suckering minimised,” Mr Hession said.
“The variety has also shown promise along the far north coast, with smaller quantities of KQ228 being processed at Mulgrave and South Johnstone mills and at both locations, cane yields have been very good with CCS around 0.6 units below mill average.”
At South Johnstone and Mulgrave, Mr Hession said the variety Q250 made up around 10% of the crush to date, achieving a cane yield of around 6 tonnes per hectare above the district average and CCS 0.8 units above mill average.
“Q250 is continuing to increase in the area planted with terrific CCS results being a strong driver,” Mr Hession said.
“It currently holds the season high of 16.42 CCS at Mulgrave.
“It’s developing into a very good cane variety but needs precise management”.
Mr Hession said Q240 – an emerging variety in the north – was also showing promise at Mulgrave and South Johnstone, with cane yields 10 to 15% above average and reasonable CCS.
“In Maryborough where it has been established for a number of seasons now, Q240 is easily out performing Q208,” he said.
Mr Hession said careful cane variety selection was critical to farm profitability, with management also vital to success.
“Weeds, row profile, field conditions, disease status of Pachymetra and RSD as well as harvest timing all contribute to the end result.”
Sugar Research Australia’s (SRA) Key Focus Area Leader for Varieties, Dr Jason Eglinton, said that SRA was focussed on improving profitability for sugarcane growers and millers through the delivery of new varieties.
“Q208 has been dominant but there is now growing adoption of newer varieties such as Q250 in Far North Queensland, which, along with Q240, has shown good sugar levels particularly early in the season,” Dr Eglinton said.
“The area sown to Q251 is also increasing and one of its key features is strong resistance to Pachymetra.
“The heavy reliance on varieties with only intermediate resistance to Pachymetra is elevating the levels of this soil borne pathogen, so the availability of resistant varieties will become increasingly important.
“SRA6 is one of the newer varieties released in the northern region that is resistant to Pachymetra.
“The SRA breeding program will be increasing the selection pressure for resistance to both smut and Pachymetra to ensure future varieties provide growers with effective control options.”
In conjunction with SRA, MSF Sugar will continue to monitor cane variety performance so results can be shared with growers through farm productivity reports at the end of the season.