Sugarcane field

Wild sugarcane is not so sweet to farmers

Sugarcane is the basis of a major commercial industry in Australia and over the years has had to deal with a variety of biological pests such as fungal, bacterial and insect. Now sugarcane growers face another threat in the form of wild sugarcane. (4:40)

  • 10 March 2009 | Updated 24 November 2011

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Saccharum spontaneum or wild sugarcane is potentially a weedy species native to tropical Africa and Asia that has spread to other regions including Australia. Not only is the wild sugarcane invasive, it also has the potential to hybridize with commercial sugarcane.

Wild sugarcane has become a particular problem in Panama. Recently Dr Graham Bonnett from CSIRO Plant Industry Division, received a Queensland Smithsonian fellowship to work in Panama and follow up on his work with the Cooperative Research Centre for Sugar Industry Innovation through Biotechnology, researching the infestation of this wild relative of sugarcane.

In this podcast, Dr Bonnett explains why wild sugarcane is a problem and what impact that may have on sugarcane improvement.

Read more about Dr Graham Bonnett: improving agricultural productivity.