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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Canal Point, Florida » Sugarcane Field Station » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #315272

Research Project: Enhancement of Sugarcane Germplasm for Development of Stress Tolerant, High Yielding Cultivars

Location: Sugarcane Field Station

Title: Advanced Breeding, Development, and Release of High Biomass Energy Cane Cultivars in Florida

Author
item Gordon, Vanessa
item Comstock, Jack
item Sandhu, Hardev - University Of Florida

Submitted to: Biomass and Bioenergy
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/25/2015
Publication Date: 4/20/2015
Citation: Gordon, V.S., Comstock, J.C., Sandhu, H. 2015. Advanced Breeding, Development, and Release of High Biomass Energy Cane Cultivars in Florida. 8th Annual International Biomass Conference & Expo. PRESENTATION DATE.

Interpretive Summary: Energy cane is a relatively new generation of energy crops being bred as a source for biofuel feedstock and ethanol production. Current energy cane breeding strategies have focused on selecting high biomass hybrids from wide crosses between commercial sugarcane cultivars and S. spontaneum, which is characterized by high stalk counts and fiber content, excellent ratooning ability, and tolerances to abiotic and biotic pressures. A cooperative energy cane cultivar development program has been established between the USDA-ARS Sugarcane Field Station (Canal Point, Florida), the University of Florida-EREC (Belle Glade, Florida), and BP Biofuels North America, LLC (Houston, Texas) to produce high-yielding, and disease-resistant cultivars. As a result of four years of testing, five energy cane cultivars (i.e., UFCP74-1010, UFCP78-1013, UFCP-82-1655, UFCP84-1047, and UFCP87-0053) were developed in Florida and released this year. Yields of the new cultivars exceeded L79-1002 (released in 2008). These clones will provide a new source of energy cane for growth on the marginal or sandy soils of Florida for cellulosic ethanol production.

Technical Abstract: Research into alternative energy sources has been on the rise since the 1970s. Novel sources of carbon-neutral energy are currently in high demand, but can pose different challenges in their development. Energy cane is a relatively new generation crop being bred as a source for biofuel feedstock and ethanol production. Though originating from the sugarcane (Sacharrum spp.) family, energy cane breeding strategies have diverged from the tradition goal of increasing sugars to maintaining a focus on selecting high biomass hybrids. These hybrids are derived from wide crosses between commercial sugarcane cultivars and S. spontaneum, a subspecies within the Saccharum family, which is characterized by high stalk counts and fiber content, excellent ratooning ability, and tolerances to abiotic and biotic pressures. A cooperative energy cane cultivar development program was established in 2007 between the USDA-ARS Sugarcane Field Station (Canal Point, Florida), and the University of Florida-EREC (Belle Glade, Florida) to produce high-yielding, and disease-resistant energy cane clones. After completing four years of multi-location field trials, disease screening, and fiber component analyses, the first-ever five energy cane cultivars developed in Florida were released in October 2014 (i.e., UFCP74-1010, UFCP78-1013, UFCP-82-1655, UFCP84-1047, and UFCP87-0053). Yields of the new cultivars are comparable to, or exceed the commercial check, L79-1002 (released in 2008). Disease data, derived from both field trials and artificial inoculation, indicate very low smut susceptibility when compared to the check; with no significant differences between the new releases. Fiber composition was comparable between the five energy cane clones and L79-1002. UFCP74-1010, UFCP78-1013, UFCP-82-1655, UFCP84-1047, and UFCP87-0053 have been released publically, and are intended for cultivation on the mineral soils within Florida. Improved strategic matings incorporating a wide range of germplasm, rigid disease screening protocols, and well-designed field trials have let to rapid improvement in clone cultivar development; with several cultivars currently in Stage II far exceeding the yields and disease ratings of both L79-1002 and some of the 2014 releases. Florida provides the most desirable location in the Unites States to breed sugarcane, and thereby energy cane as a specialized derivative product. Current cultivar development foci include: incorporation of abiotic stress tolerances, continuing the trend in yield increases and disease tolerances, and trialing greater geographic areas across the county to help target alternate locations where the energy cane is desired and can be grown as a biofuel feedstock.