Submitted to: Sugar Journal
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/10/2011
Publication Date: 1/10/2011
Citation: Hale, A.L. 2011. Breeding sugarcane for cold climates. Sugar Journal. January 2011:16-21.
Technical Abstract: The USDA-ARS Sugarcane Research Unit’s variety development program provides the local sugarcane industry with early maturing varieties containing the “Ho” designations that are adapted to the temperate climate of the region. In recent studies, we have used a growth chamber to expose diverse wild varieties of sugarcane to freezing temperatures. Two wild sugarcane varieties showed significantly higher survival of above ground buds than the commercial varieties (L 97-128 and Ho 95-988), and four were identified with more emerged shoots following a six-day freeze of the below-ground stubble. A test planted in Booneville, Arkansas was allowed to overwinter in freezing conditions. Thirty varieties have been identified that were able to withstand an Arkansas winter and are being returned to Louisiana for evaluation in the sugarcane industry and for use as parental cold-tolerant material. In an additional study, varieties were selected in 2002 that remained green following a freeze at the SRU’s research farm. These varieties have been planted in a regional test spanning 8 southern states, some in areas where low temperatures range from 0-10 degrees C. In northerly regions, this cold tolerant material appears to be surviving well, and has produced ratoon crops, indicating a high survival rate of underground buds in frozen soil. Preliminary results indicate that these varieties also have significantly less juice degradation than currently available commercial varieties. Identified cold-tolerant individuals will be used in future breeding efforts to enhance cold tolerance in sugarcane. Efforts for breeding cold tolerant sugarcane varieties are expected to contribute to future commercial “Ho” varieties able to withstand freezes to extend both the growing and harvest seasons.