2008 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
(1) Produce enough true seed of recommended crosses at Canal Point to supply the Florida cooperative sugarcane breeding program. (2) Select, develop and release high-yielding sugarcane cultivars. (3) Evaluate varieties under different sugarcane production systems in use in Florida. (4) Develop marker assisted selection for hard to select traits. (5) Develop and institute new disease screening methods for important sugarcane pathogens.
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Make crosses with basic species of Saccharum and related genera. All known techniques will be used to synchronize flowering to increase the probability of making desirable crosses, hybrids will be crossed and backcrossed under unconventional systems of breeding in an effort to increase the genetic contribution of the exotic parents in commercial cultivars. The influence of environmental conditions, stalk preservation techniques of both male and female and pollen loading (ratio of male: female tassels) will be evaluated. Screening methods for important diseases will be refined and incorporated in the cultivar development program. Variety yield trials will be assessed under various production methods, including tolerance to high water tables.
The Florida sugarcane development program requires at least nine years to develop a commercial cultivar from the time a cross is made. In the 2007/2008 crossing season, 434 crosses using 840 female tassels were made and used by ARS in the Florida breeding program. An additional 493 crosses using 760 female tassels were divided among the ARS Florida program, the ARS Louisiana program, or the Texas A&M breeding program. In total, more than 300,000 seeds were developed as a result of these efforts for use in Florida. Selections were advanced through Stages 2 and 3 based on criteria such as high sucrose content, high cane yields, disease resistance or tolerance, and general adaptability. In the final stage, Stage 4, selections were evaluated in the plant-cane, first ratoon, and second-ratoon crops on farms of ten cooperating growers. In Stage 4, one of eight locations with a muck soil was replaced by a location with a sand soil, resulting in seven locations with muck soils and three with sand soils. This research relates to Objective 1 of the parent project: Develop more efficient breeding and selection methodologies for cultivar development and to produce seed of selected sugarcane germplasm for use in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. Progress was monitored by several meetings between ARS personnel at Canal Point and personnel representing the Florida Sugar Cane League as well as at two formal meetings of the “Florida Sugarcane Variety Committee” which reviews progress from Stages 2 through 4. Three employees of the Florida Sugar Cane League are located at the USDA-ARS facility at Canal Point.