Advancing yield, disease resistance and ratooning by exploiting new sources of genetic variability from wild relatives of sugarcane : phase 1
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This project was originally planned and designed for six years to allow collection of data over 2 or 3 ratoon crops. In this first phase of the project, all propagations and trials were well established and good quality data collected from the plant crop trial harvests. Analysis and interpretation of results will be an on-going task. Some introgression clones were identified as close to commercial potential. The average performance of introgression clone trials according to their generation was as expected for CCS, Fibre and the selection index rEGV. Continued backcrossing to elite material, after the initial cross to produce the F1, increases CCS and rEGV and decreases Fibre with each backcross generation. The variation observed for each of these traits also decreases with each backcross. Introgression clones producing high value progeny have been identified and further crossing cycles will focus on using these clones. In general, seedling families derived from S. spontaneum appear to ratoon faster than E. arundinaceus progeny, regardless of the generation (BC3 or BC4). There was a very high correlation between stalk numbers per plot and stalk numbers of the best 2 stools per plot based on visual assessment, which suggests the latter to be a more efficient and cost effective method of measuring this trait in seedling trials. High and low nematode treatments were successfully achieved at 2 sites using cover crops and nematicide. No association between nematode numbers and cane yield could be identified at this stage. It is expected that cane yield differences between treatments will be more pronounced in the ratoon crops.