Technological innovations underpin sugarcane varietal programme
The National Sugar Cane Hybridisation Centre, the only site of its kind in Cuba, located in the province of Sancti Spíritus, is committed to improving the work of crossbreeding with the blooms of the grass in the mountains and plains to consolidate the nation’s sugar cane variety programme, vital for the development of sugar production.
Doctor of Science Victor Caraballoso Torrecilla, head of the crossbreeding activity at the institution, told ACN that the island is the only country where several geographical scenarios are used to synchronise sugar cane blooms, which allows early, medium and late maturing varieties that respond to the peculiarities of Cuban harvests to be obtained and promoted.
To do this, he argued, flowers are obtained in cane fields located 400 metres above sea level, at the Buenos Aires location, near Planta Cantú, in the Guamuhaya mountain massif, where the best flower induction process takes place.
Likewise, he said, we work in plantations at 800 metres above sea level, in the community of Topes de Collantes, where there is a good process of flower induction but with a slower growth of the flowers; meanwhile, he pointed out the benefits of these mountainous settings where there are cool temperatures and ideal humidity levels for profuse flowering.
The flowers generated in the lomerío are transferred to the Casa de Cruzamientos located in Guayos, in Cabaiguán, where high temperatures favour the good formation of seeds and the development of the already fertilised flower, a process that is complemented by the use of male progenitors typical of the plains obtained in the area.
Caraballoso Torrecilla explained that the limitations of material resources in recent decades have forced specialists to look for alternatives to sustain the sugar cane hybridisation programme.
He pointed out that among the inventions is the use of margullo in the female stalks before mounting the cross, an innovation that consists of adding a piece of nylon in the middle of the stalk, which is filled with a mixture of soil and organic matter and covers three internodes.
This process guarantees better nutrition to the flowering stems, ensures more seeds and better seed maturation in each one and triples the production of seedlings, an achievement impossible with the traditional technique of using only chemical solutions at this stage.
All this technology, from the use of different geographical settings to obtain the flowers to the addition of the margullo to the stalks in the hybridisation house, makes it possible to carry out the crosses that are desired in the sugar cane varieties that flower, 80 percent of the existing ones, and we are the only ones with the possibility of crossing early and late varieties of sugar cane because we have the locations for those blooms, he explained.