Location: Sugarcane Research Unit
Title: Breeding sugarcane for temperate and cold environments Authors
Submitted to: International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 16, 2011
Publication Date: May 16, 2011
Citation: Hale, A.L., Viator, R.P., Tew, T.L., Veremis, J.C., Burner, D.M. 2011. Breeding sugarcane for temperate and cold environments [abstract]. International Society of Sugar Cane Technologists 10th Germplasm and Breeding/7th Molecular Biology Workshop, May 15 - 20, 2011. Maceio, Brazil. Technical Abstract: Louisiana represents one of the world’s more temperate environments where sugarcane is commercially grown. Since its inception in the 1920s, The USDA-ARS breeding program at the Sugarcane Research Laboratory in Houma, Louisiana, U.S.A. has focused on breeding varieties adapted to this unique environment. Unique selection strategies geared toward early sucrose production have enabled the industry to grow varieties able to produce over 100kg sugar per Mg of cane in seven months. With the growing and harvest period dictated by early- and late-season freezes, cold tolerance is a major trait of interest in the breeding program. The increasing interest in sugarcane as a biofuel feedstock has increased the number of studies aimed at selecting for increased levels of cold-tolerance in parental clones. Clones selected from the basic breeding program have been sent to numerous locations in the U.S.A. to assess their cold hardiness. These locations range as far north as Prosser, Washington (46°12'25'N 119°45'56'W). Selected material has been included in a cold tolerance evaluation in St. Joseph, Louisiana (31°55'7'N 91°14'18'W31.91861°N 91.23833°W) to determine the rate of juice degradation following a freeze. Following one year of evaluation, clones from the basic breeding program showed significantly less juice degradation than commercial clones. In 2008, 20 seedling families were planted in Booneville, Arkansas (35°8'23'N 93°55'17'W) and allowed to overwinter in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Results showed differences in survival rates between families, and this information is being used in the breeding program to select parents able to transmit cold tolerance to their progeny. Houma’s basic breeding program currently maintains a selection of 50 Saccharum spontaneum accessions. These 50 accessions were screened for cold tolerance using a growth chamber assay. Differences were observed between the clones for shoot emergence after being subjected to freezing temperatures (six days at -7oC). The S. spontaneum accessions identified as having superior cold tolerance are being included as parents in the 2011 crossing season. Ongoing studies at the USDA-ARS-Sugarcane Research Unit aim to further adapt sugarcane to temperate growing regions.