Growers advised to be aware but not alarmed by Yellow Canopy Syndrome in this year’s sugarcane crop

SRA Media Release
20 January 2014

Sugar Research Australia (SRA) has reported that Yellow Canopy Syndrome (YCS), an undiagnosed condition affecting sugarcane crops is making its presence felt in the 2014 season.
Dr Andrew Ward, Executive Manager – Professional Extension and Communication Unit, SRA said that growers should be alert to the condition particularly in the north, but not necessarily alarmed by its presence.

“SRA along with northern and central region productivity service organisations are monitoring the distribution and severity of YCS throughout the affected regions,” said Dr Ward.

“We continue to diagnose new cases and map these as they are identified.”

Only a small number of cases have been reported in the Proserpine region, and confirmed cases in the Burdekin region remain stable compared to this time last year.

In the Herbert and Mossman regions the number of fields showing low-levels of YCS symptoms appear to have increased significantly compared to what was seen in 2013. A small number of fields in the Mulgrave region are showing very severe symptoms.

Data collected from the 2013 season revealed that although YCS appeared to reduce CCS early in the season, these levels improved as the crush progressed and returned to expected levels by the later part of the season.

“We also observed that the presence of low-levels of YCS symptoms did not necessarily result in yield losses for growers. In most cases by the end of the season the cane recovered.

“At the other extreme there were a small number of fields in the Mulgrave and Herbert regions affected by severe symptoms of YCS. These growers experienced yield reductions in excess of 50 per cent raising the question as to what they should do with them post-harvest.

“We are monitoring these fields as they ratoon including some that cut as little as 25 tonnes of cane per hectare. Interestingly, in many of these fields, the new cane is healthy and is currently showing no symptoms of YCS,” explained Dr Ward.

SRA continues to lead the Solving Yellow Canopy Research Project with the aim of identifying the causal agents of the condition and potential management strategies.
In early February information and data collected from a range of established transmission and management trials, and monitoring activities will be reviewed in conjunction with the Scientific Research Panel, an independent group of plant scientists who have been appointed to the project to provide expert input to and oversight of the project.

“Over the last six months our research program has helped us build a better understanding of this condition and allowed us to rule out a number of possible causes such as nutritional deficiencies and
toxicities, phyto-toxicity from chemicals and herbicides and insect damage We are also confident from our studies that the condition is not being caused by any known pathogens.

“It is an ideal time to review our current findings with the Panel. With their input we will direct our attention to areas that are identified as being more likely causes of the condition,” said Dr Ward.

Based upon research results to date SRA is advising growers to continue using approved seed cane where possible and to adopt good farming practices.

“From our transmission trials in Tully and Woodford we have not seen any evidence that YCS can be transmitted via planting material.

“We encourage growers to continue reporting cases of suspected YCS to their local productivity services group to help us in the fight against this condition,” concluded Dr Ward.

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