Sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum) is an important cash crop of the Punjab province. It belongs to the family Poaceae and native of temperate humid to tropical regions of Asia. All sugarcane species interbreed and the major commercial cultivars are complex hybrids and products like table sugar, molasses and ethanol are directly obtained from sugarcane. The bagasse that remains after sugar cane crushing is burnt to provide heat and electricity. It is also utilized as raw material for paper, chipboard, and utensils, because of its high cellulose content. The sugarcane tops serve as fodder during scarcity of fodder period. The grower’s economy and viability of sugar industry is based on this crop. Sugarcane crop plays a pivotal role in our domestic economy next to cotton as a cash crop. It has 0.7% share to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In the Punjab, during 2021-22 sugarcane was grown on an area of 869.25 thousand hectares and the production was 64.24 million tonnes (Crop Reporting Service, 2021-2022).
The Sugarcane Research Station was established in 1934, in Lyallpur. Later on, this section was upgraded as Sugarcane Research Institute; Faisalabad in 1978.The Research work was focused on the main objectives of the evolution of high cane and sugar yielding, disease and insect pest’s resistant varieties besides, the development of improved production technology. The Research Program includes 50 experiments on various disciplines including Sugarcane Breeding (14), Agronomy (15), Pathology (08), Entomology (03) and Technology (10) on going trials including 16 new experiments in the current research year. The Sugarcane Breeding components includes collection of germplasm, raising of fuzz and selection of clones and their testing at various stages in varietal development program. The research programme work also includes cane flowering at Research Sub Station, Charapani, Murree. The Annual Programme of Research Work for 2022-23 at Khanpur Station includes 10 experiments.
- Evolution of widely adaptable varieties having desired economic characters.
- To develop package of production technology for optimum cane and sugar yield.
- To evaluate varieties for higher sugar contents.
- To produce clones having desired parental characters and to raise seedlings for selection of elite clones.
- To evolve varieties having high yield and quality potential for different soil and climatic conditions.
- To evolve varieties resistant to insect pests, diseases, lodging, drought, frost and soil hazards.
- To determine optimum planting and harvesting schedule of varieties to obtain maximum cane and sugar yield.
- To develop package of production technology to improve cane and sugar yield from plant and ratoon crop.
- To find out most economical fertilizer doses for optimum yield.
- To develop technology to minimize sugar losses during harvesting and processing of cane.
- Zoning of sugarcane growing areas
- Screening of resistant varieties against biotic and abiotic stresses
- Varietal distribution
- Strengthening of NUYT & Zonal trials
- Strengthening of SRI, Faisalabad
- Broadening of germplsm
- Analyzing of red rot strains in Punjab and resistant to new pathotypes
- Healthy seed of approved varieties
- Mechanical cultivation of sugarcane & import of machinery
- Sugarcane campaign
- Capacity building of the scientists of SRI
- Legislation for sugarcane
- Developing technologies for alternate uses of sugarcane
- Research on conservation sugarcane farming e.g. cropping pattern, soil health, planting method, irrigation method mechanical cultivation etc.
- Studies on other sugar crops like sugarbeet, sweet sorghum and stevia