BSES Media Release: Nearly $1 million invested to fight Yellow Canopy Syndrome found in sugarcane

23 June 2013

Nearly $1 million invested to fight Yellow Canopy Syndrome found in sugarcane The Australian sugarcane industry and Queensland Government have pooled their financial and scientific resources in a joint initiative to better understand and manage Yellow Canopy Syndrome (YCS) – an undiagnosed condition affecting some cane-growing regions.

The one-year research project Solving the Yellow Canopy Syndrome received a $500 000 commitment from the Sugar Research Development Corporation (SRDC), $276 000 from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Queensland (DAFFQ) and $200 000 from BSES Limited (BSES).

SRDC Executive Director, Annette Sugden, said this program is a terrific example of how industry and government are collaborating to combat a major issue.

“The short timeframe it took to gain funding and support reflects the importance industry and government place on this issue,” Ms Sugden said.

The project will be supported by an Industry Stakeholder Group, a Scientific Research Panel, productivity service groups and other research organisations.

The Industry Stakeholder group will be represented by the Australian Sugar Milling Council, CANEGROWERS, Australian Cane Farmers Association, Burdekin Productivity Services Limited (BPS), Herbert Cane Productivity Services Limited (HCPSL) and Plant Health Australia. The Group will play a key role in monitoring the ongoing progress of the project and communicating outcomes and findings to their organisation and members.

The Scientific Reference Panel will provide supporting scientific opinion about the direction of the project. The Panel will include members with national and international recognition in a range of supporting disciplines including plant physiology and molecular pathology.

“It’s also critical to involve industry at a local level where this condition has been found. To date, BSES has worked extensively with HCPSL and BPS and these productivity groups will continue to provide an essential on-the-ground presence in two of the most affected areas,” Ms Sugden said.

Queensland Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry John McVeigh welcomed the research, describing the sugarcane industry as the lifeblood of many regional communities.

“Last year we committed an additional $4.6 million over four years to BSES for sugarcane research to help boost yields and importantly, to identify and find solutions to production risks such as YCS.

“My department has valuable expertise in remote sensing applications to manage cane yield variability and make yield predictions at regional and field scales.

“This experience will undoubtedly assist the YCS project and enable easier identification of affected cane and provide information about the spread of the condition,” the Minister said.
BSES Chairman, Mr Paul Wright, said BSES is well-placed to lead this project given its expertise in key scientific fields, an existing extension system and networks within the scientific community.

“Reports from pre-crush investigations indicate that cane which shows symptoms consistent with YCS could have less sugar. This means less profit for growers and millers this season. It is also likely that YCS could impact on ratoonability and future yields,” said Mr Wright.

“The BSES Board also contributed funds to the project to ensure that it is fully staffed and resourced so that those involved can focus exclusively on understanding this condition.
“It is only through a continued methodical and scientific approach that we will gain an accurate insight into YCS. We can then develop successful approaches to minimise its economic damage and get the industry back on track.”

The project, which has already started, involves large-scale monitoring, sampling programs and data collection activities in the Herbert and Burdekin cane-growing districts.
These results will provide a comprehensive study of YCS over time, allowing supporting investigations to be undertaken as more becomes known about the condition.

Information about the project, its progress and findings will continue to be communicated to industry by BSES’s Professional Extension and Communication Unit.

“This issue has the potential to affect everyone in our industry, so it’s important that everyone remains informed about YCS, even if they have not seen it on their farm,” said Mr Wright.

“YCS has captured the attention of our best minds. I would like to reassure everyone in our industry that solving YCS is our highest priority.”

Media contacts
Vanessa Sandhu, BSES Communications Manager, 0419 175 815 Louise Gillis, Media, Minister McVeigh, 0408 709 160 Carolyn Martin, SRDC Communications Manager, 07 3210 0495 or 0439 399 886, cmartin@srdc.gov.au<mailto:cmartin@srdc.gov.au>

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