SA's miracle sugar cane.

PositionProducts & Processes - South AFrica - Brief Article

The story of South Africa's 'miracle' sugar cane variety actually begins nearly 60 years ago. Incredibly it was the result of a breeding programme that went wrong. In the years that followed, variety NCo376 set the standard for cane growing Africa-wide. In 1944, a batch of sugar cane seed was imported from Coimbatore in India to Mount Edgecombe's sugar experimentation station near Durban in KwaZulu-Natal.

The seedlings were planted in a breeding programme, but were virtually decimated in a savage drought the following year - less than half the seedlings survived. Of these, the most robust were selected for the second stage and were replanted - only to face another year of severe drought. Its deprived childhood resulted in a mature variety of amazing resilience and productivity.

When the stalks were milled at the end of 1947, it was found that although its sucrose content and juice purity were low, NCo376 contained considerably less fibre. This encouraged further plantings in a variety of...

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