A team from CSIRO has found that high-yielding sugarcane varieties perform well in a variety of regions with different climates.
"We found that although the varieties performed differently at each location and in each year the effect of regions on performance was relatively small and inconsistent - despite the varying climate between regions," said CSIRO plant industry sugarcane researcher, Dr Scott Chapman.
"For example, if Variety A yields more sugar than Variety B in the Central region it will also generally do better than Variety B in most other regions as well."
"This finding was true for both cane yield and commercial cane sugar, or CCS, content," he added.
Dr Chapman said that information from selection trials in one region can be therefore be used to help predict performance in other regions, to a greater extent than previously realised.
"Exchange of sugarcane varieties has always taken place between regions but previously most of these shared varieties went back into early stage assessment trials," he said.
The results come from a seven-year study of experimental sugarcane varieties in Australia's sugarcane regions by BSES and CSIRO Sugarcane Improvement Joint Venture.
The venture has now adopted the recommendation to exchange their best regional material earlier and place it directly into final assessment trials - cutting up to three years off the development time of new varieties that have been proven elsewhere.
The results are also being used in a new joint project that will enable breeders to make best use of data from all regions when they select varieties and parents in all stages of their breeding programmes.
Dr Chapman emphasises that the breeding programs still need to continue their focus on developing sugarcane varieties specifically suited to soils and climate within each region.
"Our research has identified a way to pool resources without compromising quality of locally adapted varieties and to breed superior varieties and deliver better genetic gains faster."