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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

News at Canal Point

Personnel: (2013)

Dr. Per McCord was hired as our new Research Geneticist on 19 November 2012. He obtained his PhD in 2009 from NC State and was previously employed as an ARS post-doctoral research associate at Prosser, Washington. He was doing research on DNA marker development in alfalfa and potato.  He participated in our just-completed crossing season.


Molecular Research: (2013)

There has been a major effort in molecular research (initiated by Dr. Neil Glynn, our former Molecular Biologist) to incorporation of using a marker, called Bru1, to detect the presence of a major brown rust resistance gene.  All parental clones and all clones in Stage II for the last two years (2011 and 2012) have been tested for the presence of the Bru1 marker (which confirms the presence of beneficial resistance to brown rust).  Mike Irey provided assistance from US Sugar Corporation’s robotic equipment in this effort.  These efforts with the Bru1 gene will help develop CP cultivars resistant to brown rust and will assist in developing other sources of brown rust resistance. 



Sandland Cultivar Development Program: (2013)

A separate Cultivar Development Program was initiated for Sand Soils in 2011 after several years of preliminary testing.  The test is at US Sugar Corporation’s Townsite location.  On 26 April 2011, approximately 8,200 seedlings were transplanted to the field, and clones were selected in the ratoon crop in 2012.  There were approximately 5,700 clones in the first ratoon that were evaluated based on their visual cane biomass and Brix value (19.5 or higher) for advancement to a Sandland Stage I planting at Townsite.  There were approximately 950 clones selected with an average Brix value of 21.0 (range 19.5 to 23.5).  The seedlings looked impressive.


Stage I Regular Program: (2013)

The procedure for selecting Stage I clones has changed in recent years. There is more emphasis on eliminating rust-susceptible clones; performed in July and August by Wayne Davidson and Miguel Baltazar.  They rated all of the 14,371 clones (including 158 check plots) in Stage I for rusts. The intensity of rust was high so the ratings were more accurate than in past years. Furthermore, all clones were visually rated for growth vigor and diseases (leaf scald, smut, and others) in early September. Individual clones were first evaluated based on these traits. Clones with a rust rating equal and above 2 (a total of 4,581 clones or 31.9% with brown rust; a total of 2,429 clones or 16.9% with orange rust), and clones showing leaf scald or smut were not considered for advancement. The most vigorous 2,835 clones without any of these diseases had Brix values taken in early November. For the 158 check plots (CP 78-1628, CP 80-1743, CP 88-1762 and CP 89-2143) the mean vigor rating was 5.8 and the average Brix value was 19.0.  Notably, the advanced clones had an average vigor rating of 6.6 and average Brix value of 19.5.  Thus, the 1,509 rust resistant clones advanced to Stage II were the most vigorous clones that had the highest Brix values.



Sugarcane Orange Rust (2007)

In June 2007, symptoms of sugarcane orange rust were observed in grower fields.  Subsequently, the disease was confirmed by both morphological and molecular techniques.  This was the first confirmed documented observation of Puccinia kuehnii, the causal agent of sugarcane orange rust in Florida and the Western Hemisphere.  Subsequently, orange rust has been confirmed and reported as occurring in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  This pathogen was previously reported only in Southeast Asia, Australia and the Philippines.  The introduction of sugarcane orange rust is highly significant since the major commercial cultivar, CP 80-1743, is susceptible and has had serious yield losses due to the disease.  



Changes in the CP-Cultivar Development Program (2007)

In response to the introduction of the sugarcane orange rust pathogen, P. kuehnii, there has been a shift in research emphasis to address the orange rust problem.  All clones in the cultivar development program from Stage I through the end of the development program are being assessed for their reaction.  Ratings are taken based on natural infection in experimental plots.  Also, an artificial inoculation method has been developed and is used to screen clones in Stage II through Stage IV of the program. 





Staff Presentations

13th May 2009
Clewiston, Florida
Clewiston Inn – Sugar & Spice Room
9:30 A.M. – 12:30 P.M. 


9:30 – 9:50 “ CP–Program Changes to Improve Sand Land Variety Development” Jack Comstock; USDA, ARS Sugarcane Breeding Station – Research Leader

9:50 – 10:10 “ Status on the Progeny Test Evaluations for the Sand Muck Environments” Serge Edme; USDA, ARS Sugarcane Breeding Station – Research Geneticist

10:10 – 10:30 “ Physiological Approaches to Improve Sugarcane Yields and Variety Selection for Sand Soils” Duli Zhao; USDA, ARS Sugarcane Breeding Station – Research Agronomist  

10:30 – 10:50 “Selection of Muck and Sand Adapted Varieties from Stage 2 of the Canal Point Breeding Program” Neil Glynn; USDA, ARS Sugarcane Breeding Station – Research Molecular Biologist

10:50 – 11:10 “Stage 2 Selections on Sand Soils: Preliminary Results” Alicia del Blanco; USDA, ARS Sgarcane Breeding Station – Research Geneticist

11:10 – 11:30 “Energy Grasses for Florida Sand Land” Rob Gilbert; UF/IFAS, EREC – Associate Professor  

11:30 – 11:50 “ Using Mill Mud to Select Sugarcane Varieties for Sand” Barry Glaz; USDA, ARS Sugarcane Breeding Station – Research Leader

11:50 – 12:30  Panel Discussion:  Will focus primarily on experiences with CP 00-1101, CP 00-1446, CP 00-2180, CP 01-1372, and CPCL 97-2730. (See attached topics)  
Jack Comstock; USDA, ARS Sugarcane Breeding Station – Research Leader


28th May 2009
University of Florida IFAS
Everglades Research and Education Center, Belle Glade, Florida

9:30 AM- 12:30 PM
(Part of a Sugarcane Orange Rust
Workshop Sponsored by (University of Florida IFAS Extension)

9:30-9:50  Sugarcane Orange Rust; Status in Florida
 Jack C. Comstock, USDA-ARS Sugarcane Field Station-Research Leader

Rust Meeting


Orange Rust Meeting
At the USDA-ARS Sugarcane Field Station
Canal Point, Florida
May 29, 2009

The meeting of Brazilian and US Sugarcane Scientists was conducted to explore possible cooperative and collaborative research emphasizing sugarcane orange rust and other areas of mutual interests to the participants to improve the sugarcane production.


8:15-8:30 AM   Coffee and Informal Introductions

8:30 AM   Welcoming to the Sugarcane Field Station  Jack Comstock

8:30-8:40 AM Round the Table Introductions

8:40-8:55 AM Brief History of the Sugarcane Field Station  Jack Comstock

9:10-9:40 AM  Overview and Objectives of Meeting   Ryan Moore, OIRP
         Felix Franca, Labex

9:20-10:10 AM Summary of Current Research Projects in Brazil and Areas of Collaboration with ARS and other US Scientists.     

  Marcelo Canteri
  Marcelo Sfeir de Aguiar 
  André Felipe da Silva
  Eder Antonio Giglioti
  José Geraldo Baldini Ribeiro
  Selma C. C. de Holanda Tavares


10:25-11:55 AM  Group Discussion of Research in Collaboration with Jack  Comstock/Felix Franca

12:00-12:40       Lunch in Conference Room

12:45-1:15 PM    Summation       Deb Fravel, Acting NPL, Plant Health

Follow Up and/or Tour of Station Fields and Laboratory

ARS News Articles

USDA's Agricultural Research Service Announces Scientist of the Year Awards
Jun 12, 2012
Sugarcane Okay in Standing Water, Helps Protect Everglades
Mar 24, 2010
New Sugarcane Cultivars Developed for Sand Soils of South Florida
Dec 29, 2008
New Sugarcane Variety Resists Major Diseases
Jan 04, 2006
Drought Relief Spelled "A-E-R-E-N-C-H-Y-M-A"
Aug 06, 1997
Last Modified: 4/5/2013