The genetic improvement of sugar cane is geared towards the development of new varieties with high cane yields, high sucrose content, resistant to the major diseases and pests, adapted to the various agro-climatic zones of the island, and suitable for harvesting at different periods of the milling season. Varieties should also demonstrate good ratooning capacity, are suitable for mechanized harvest, and also have suitable morphological attributes, high population density, good germination potential and efficient canopy cover. In the context of the new strategic plan for the sugar cane industry, increasing interest is also paid to the production of high sucrose and early-ripening varieties, to the exploitation of total biomass and to the development of high fibre varieties for electricity generation and ethanol production.
The MSIRI maintains around 2000 parent-varieties including original species and allied genera, most of them have been evaluated and characterized for important morphological and agronomic traits. Around 1800-2000 crosses representing about 450 genetic combinations are made every year, from May to July, in crossing glasshouses under controlled conditions. The choice of parent varieties are based on knowledge on the floral biology of the plant, the genetic control of characters of importance and the breeding value of parent varieties and their combining ability. Seeds produced each year are sown to produce a new generation of 66,000 genotyes, each representing a new variety.
The institute also maintains a dynamic variety exchange policy with foreign breeding stations. Foreign varieties are evaluated for adaptation to local conditions.
The selection programme consists in the evaluation of the 66,000 new varieties across several stages of selection spanning over 12 to 15 years before a variety is released for cultivation. Data from crossing ans selection are managed and processed in a modern 'Plant Breeding Management Information System', which makes use of different software and enables quick and easy access to information via the user-friendly, menu-driven graphical interface. The involvement of planters in the setting up of a network of trials across the island and in the evaluation of promising varieties are key factors for the success of the variety improvement programme
The main research thrusts are:
Recently released varieties
Since its creation in 1953, MSIRI has released a total of 64 varieties of which 52 have been produced locally and 12 foreign ones that had been evaluated for adaptation to local conditions.
MSIRI (2007). M 1672/90 (M 134/75 x R 570): A high-yielding variety with medium sucrose and high fibre content, released in 2007 for the subhumid zone, suitable for middle/late-season harvest. Réduit: Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute. 4 p. (Notes on newly-released sugar cane varieties; 14)
MSIRI (2006). M 2593/92 (Q 555/60 x Polycross): High-yielding variety with above average sucrose content released in 2006 for early and middle/late harvest for the subhumid zone. Réduit: Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute. 4 p.: 6 figs. (Notes on newly-released sugar cane varieties; 13)
MSIRI (2006). M 2238/89 (Q 555/60 x M 2343/77): High-yielding variety with medium sucrose content and fairly high fibre content released in 2006 for middle and late harvest for the superhumid zone. Réduit: Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute. 4 p.: 6 figs. (Notes on newly-released sugar cane varieties; 12)
MSIRI (2005). M 1861/89 (Q 96 x M 2343/77): A high-yielding variety with fairly high sucrose content released in 2005 for middle and late harvest for the superhumid zone. Réduit: Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute. 4 p.: 6 figs. (Notes on newly-released sugar cane varieties; 11)
MSIRI (2004). M 703/89 (NCo 376 x NA 6390): an early-ripening high-yielding variety released in 2004 for early and mid-season harvest for the superhumid B-soils. Réduit: Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute. 4 p.: 6 figs. (Notes on newly-released sugar cane variety; 10).
Recommendation sheets of sugar cane varieties
In 2008, a total of 24 varieties are recommended for planting in diverse environments.
MAURITIUS SUGAR INDUSTRY RESEARCH INSTITUTE (2008). Recommended harvest periods of commercial sugar cane varieties. Réduit: Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute. 1 p. (Recomm. sh. Maurit. Sug. Ind. Res. Inst., 162)(Cancels no. 159 of February 2007)
MAURITIUS SUGAR INDUSTRY RESEARCH INSTITUTE (2008). Sugar cane varieties recommended for planting in different soil types. Réduit: Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute. 1 p. (Recomm. sh. Maurit. Sug. Ind. Res. Inst., 161)(Cancels no. 158 of February 2007)
Biometry and IT
Services in Applied Statistics and Information Technology (IT) are also offered for processing breeding and selection data and for the institute globally. Both human and technical resources are provided to facilitate the efficient use of technology to meet the goals of the Institute and to foster an environment that allows IT to grow.
Presently the local area network consists of more than 100 PCs, a network server, a database server and a mail server.
Statistics and biometrics research support service are provided for a wide range of biological sciences.
Dr Goolam Badaloo