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.