Variety Improvement

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Variety Improvement Programme

Programme Manager: Dr Sandy Snyman (

The Variety Improvement Programme encompasses operational and research activities that facilitate the development and release of varieties with sucrose, yield, pest and disease, agronomic and milling characteristics that are desirable to both millers and growers.

The Plant Breeding Project, which forms the foundation of the Programme, consists of three complementary operations, viz. breeding, selection, and bulking and release, which ultimately deliver varieties adapted to the diverse agro-bioclimatic regions in the industry, while taking cognisance of the impact of pests and diseases and the needs of the milling community. The development of superior varieties is complemented by a portfolio of research projects that draw on international technological trends, both for sugarcane and other crops, to advance and refine the process of variety improvement.

Currently, modern biotechnological approaches are deployed to (1) enhance parental selection within the Plant Breeding Project, (2) deliver novel, desirable traits ('precision breeding'), (3) develop systems for the rapid bulking and distribution of high-quality seedcane and (4) investigate the biological basis of sucrose accumulation in sugarcane, with a view to enhancing the process. While these research efforts are guided strongly by breeding imperatives, they are also informed by priorities determined within the Crop Protection and Resource Optimisation programmes.

Click here to view a List of Projects