Sugarcane growers and millers in the Burdekin, Far North Queensland (FNQ) and Herbert regions will soon have access to newly approved Sugar Research Australia (SRA) sugarcane varieties.
The SRA8 variety, is the first of the new SRA-branded varieties to be released in the Burdekin since the formation of SRA in 2013.
SRA Leader for Crossing and Selection Dr George Piperidis said the SRA breeding program is about delivering the best possible varieties for each region.
“This variety has stood out among several thousand clones, years of assessment trials, and final approval by the local industry,” Dr Piperidis said.
“All SRA varieties have been developed to maximise profitability for sugarcane growers and millers, striking the right balance between tonnes of cane, sugar content, optimum resistance to diseases, and ability to be processed within the mill,” he said.
SRA8 is currently in the mother plots run by Burdekin Productivity Services (BPS) and was first planted into BPS strip trials in 2014.
In final assessment and strip trial data, the variety had average tonnes of cane per hectare, and high sugar (CCS). It is intermediate resistant to smut.
It has been approved for release by the Burdekin Variety Approval Committee (VAC) which is made up of growers, millers, and industry representatives, who determine the varieties they want released in their region.
“The Burdekin VAC has identified this variety as having great potential for grower and miller profitability,” Dr Piperidis said.
BPS Manager, Rob Milla, said that once strip trials were harvested in 2016, these results would be shared in BPS newsletters and shed meetings.
“From what we have observed at strip trials, SRA8 appears to have rapid germination and above average CCS,” Mr Milla said.
“Feedback from growers has suggested they would prefer higher CCS varieties, and SRA8 should fill this requirement. As with all new varieties, BPS suggests growers to trial a small area on their farm,” he said.
In the Herbert region the new variety SRA5 has been approved for release by the Herbert Variety Approval Committee (VAC) and is suited to niche environments and certain conditions.
Dr Piperidis, said that SRA5 was most suited to poor soils and extreme environments such as regions prone to extended water-logging.
“In our trials, SRA5 has produced above-average tonnes with good vigour, although with very low CCS and high fibre,” he said.
“Because of this, it is not expected to be a dominant variety for the region, but it could fill an important niche role.”
Herbert grower Joe Girgenti farms at the southern end of the district near Mutarnee and said that he saw potential for SRA5 in certain environments having grown small amounts of the variety over several years as part of SRA’s trials.
“Growers put our eyes on this variety and decided we want to go ahead with it,” Mr Girgenti said.
“My observation is that it ratoons well, produces very good tonnes, and stands up tall,” he said.
“The lower CCS means that it will not be for everyone, but if it ratoons well and can save on our replanting costs then it could fill an important niche here in the Herbert.”
Dr Piperidis said that Herbert Cane Productivity Services Limited (HCPSL) would establish nitrogen and ripener trials to see if SRA5 could be managed to produce more CCS.
In FNQ growers and millers will soon be able to grow new varieties SRA6 and SRA7, and varieties SRA1 and SRA3 that have been approved in other regions and are now available in the far north.
The new varieties were approved for release by the Far North Queensland Variety Approval Committee (VAC).
“The FNQ VAC has identified these varieties as having the greatest potential for grower and miller profitability and approved their release,” Dr Piperidis said.
“Both SRA6 and SRA7 are locally-bred Northern varieties,” he said.
They have above-average tonnes of cane per hectare and below-average CCS, with their productivity in tonnes of sugar per hectare better than the major commercial varieties grown in the Far North.”
Cane Productivity Manager with Tully Sugar Limited (TSL), Greg Shannon, welcomed the new varieties.
“Here in Tully we have been running an industry group known as the ‘Tully Variety Management’ group since 2012,” Mr Shannon said.
“Apart from TSL, Tully Cane Productivity Services, and SRA, we have 31 growers involved in this group which trials and observes new varieties as they come into the system.”
Across seven major trial sites covering the bulk of the region’s soil types, this group looks at: germination; CCS curve trends from 10-14 months of crop age; herbicide reactions (commercial) and field characteristics such as lodging and free trashing.
“Up to now, the majority of varieties we are working with have been blanket approved and we test them for several seasons to find the best local recommendation for them to fit into our system.
“However with SRA6 and SRA7 both being locally bred varieties, we are hopeful they will find a place in our system quickly.
“In addition SRA6 is Pachymetra resistant and we know, from our recent surveys, that Pachymetra is a major issue for us.”
More information about all sugarcane varieties is available via SRA’s online tool QCANESelect or growers can contact their local productivity services organisation.