Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 20, 2013
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Recent literature suggests that sugarcane breeding in the United States has reached a sugar yield plateau. If so, this could have huge implications for the future of the industry and breeding per se because yield improvement might have to be achieved through secondary, non-sugar-related traits, or through non-conventional breeding approaches. The objectives were to examine the putative plateau from two data perspectives. A retrospective analysis of yield of theoretical recoverable sucrose (TRS) was conducted for an historic dataset of released Louisiana cultivars and advanced selections from 1972 to 2012 maturity tests in first-ratoon (Test 1). Clones in Test 1 represented the six most recent, consecutive generations of varieties developed through recurrent selection. A small subset of clones (n = 25) selected specifically for above average TRS were examined in plant-cane and first-ratoon crops (Test 2). Results of Test 1 showed that TRS progressively increased across generations, with no apparent diminished ability to improve TRS through breeding. Results of Test 2 showed that selections had greater TRS than the means of check cultivars, and there was a normal distribution of yields in plant-cane. While first-ratoon means tended to be greater than the check cultivars, the distribution was skewed toward lower TRS yields. Thus, results of Test 2 suggested it may be possible, but perhaps difficult, to select for high TRS in the first-ratoon from a small initial population size. Results from Test 1 clearly contradict recent reports that breeding has reached a sugar yield plateau. Thus, the sugarcane industry can expect the release of new cultivars with greater sugar yields than in the past.