Submitted to: Sugar Cane
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 20, 1996
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Freeze injury to sugarcane is an important economic constraint to sugar production in the subtropical regions. The breeding of varieties resistant to freeze injury has been one of the major objectives at USDA-ARS Sugarcane Field Station at Canal Point, Florida. Selection for frost resistance in sugarcane is difficult because of the complex nature of this trait. Clones derived from crosses between commercial varieties and wild cane were used to evaluate the frost resistance of mature sugarcane and to examine correlations between frost resistance and fiber or sugar. Tests were conducted at Gainesville, Florida from 1992 to 1994. Frost resistance ratings were based on percent green leaf tissue after freezes. Frost resistance ratings, after a light freeze, were distributed normally but after a moderate freeze the distribution was skewed toward higher ratings (more resistance). Fiber content but not sugar was positively associated with frost resistance under moderate freeze conditions. Information on associations of frost resistance with other traits should help sugarcane breeders increase the effectiveness of selection for frost resistance. Frost-resistant varieties could minimize yield loss from cold damage.
Technical Abstract: Sugarcane clones derived from commercial cultivars X Saccharum spontaneum were evaluated for frost resistance of mature sugarcane and the correlation between frost resistance and fiber or sugar. The test was conducted at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Agronomy Farm, Gainesville from 1992 to 1994. Data on frost resistance was based on percent green leaf tissue after both light and moderate freezes and were collected in first and second ratoon crops. Stalk samples were taken to measure fiber and sugar content. The frequency distribution for frost resistance appeared to be normal under conditions of a light freeze, but was skewed toward higher ratings under moderate freeze conditions. Resistance to frost injury was positively correlated with fiber content under moderate freeze conditions (r = 0.471 in first ratoon crop and r = 0.541 in second ratoon crop) but not under light freeze conditions. Frost resistance was not significantly associated with Brix, sucrose content or reducing sugars. Information about association of frost resistance with other characters of economic importance should assist sugarcane breeders in improving the effectiveness of selection for frost resistance.