Sugarcane Breeding Sub-Station, Murree

Sugar as one of basic necessities of daily life, breeding is among most helpful tools to develop more better sugarcane varieties useful in enhancing the sugar yield and other economic parameters. Accurate development and precise functioning of reproductive parts of plants are vital for any successful breeding program. In sugarcane, production of viable true seeds is major limitation in most of the parts of the world including Pakistan. Acknowledging the importance of breeding and viewing viability issues in most parts of the country, Sugarcane Breeding Sub-Station (SBSS) was established in 1950s. This sub-station is situated in Murree and holds 6.5 Acres of leased agricultural land at two experimental sites – Charrapani and Pail. Rented office building is located at Tret.It is situated in northern mountainous region (Murree, Punjab) of Pakistan at latitude of 33.849o North and altitude of 400m. Though it does not lie at latitude suitable for sugarcane flowering, even then the site offers relatively suitable environmental conditions for fuzz production. Most of the genotypes flowers abundantly which reveals the worth of the experimental location.Though the SBSS is striving for improvement of sugarcane plants, but it has an immense potential of playing key role in sugar sector of the country with the objective of:
“Production of elite clones that are widely adapted to most parts of the country with significant higher yield and sucrose content”

Research Activities


To study the flowering behavior of sugarcane breeding lines, each year, ~200 lines are maintained as plant and ratoon crop at two experimental sites Pail and Charrapani.

  • Land is prepared manuallyas the field layout and topography of the field location hinders the implement operations
  • Sowing is practiced in lines of 3-4m and 1m apart with double sets. Recommended fertilizer dose at sowing is split into two with first half at sowing and remaining half after 60 days of sowing
  • Agronomic practices continue till the flowering period

Flowering data

  • As the basic purpose of this sub-station is breeding, so flowering parameters are recorded regularly every season. Every stalk with visible flag leaf is tagged and subsequent data are recorded against this tag (Fig. 1).  These data help in studying the behavior of every line assisting while attempting crosses.

Figure 1: Tagging of stalks for recording below mentioned flowering parameters.

Following flowering parameters are recorded:

  • Flagging
  • Emergence
  • Completion
  • Harvesting


  • Although some environmental hindrances do exist, even then bi-parental crosses are usually attempted. These crosses are attempted when flowers from most of the desired lines are available i.e. at peak of flowering season in April to May
  • Muslin cloth bags hanging over aluminum frame are used to prevent pollen contaminations and to protect the mature arrows from being damaged (Fig. 2 below)

Figure 2: Attempts of bi-parental crossing.

Fuzz Collection and Drying

  • Collection of fuzz is another important activity that continues throughout the flowering season. Mature arrows (sugarcane inflorescences) are harvested. Fuzz is collected from both crosses and from open pollinating arrows.However, most of the fuzz produced is from open pollinating arrows
  • Harvested arrows are air dried under shade to optimum moisture contents (Fig. 3)

Figure 3: Harvested fuzz is being air dried.

Fuzz Storage

  • Fuzz thus produced and dried is either sown directly or stored at -20oC for later sowing
  • Before 2013, all the fuzz was used to shift to Sugarcane Research Institute (SRI), Faisalabad where seedlings were raised. Since then, most of the fuzz produced at this sub-station is being sown here

Fuzz Sowing

  • Raised beds (10’x20’) are prepared fromsieved soil containing decomposed autumn leaves and other vegetation
  • Beds are divided length-wise into two keeping a path of one foot in between
  • Fuzz is sparsely castednot allowing bunching. Thereafter, it is pressed gently by hands and sieved mixture of Bhal (soil collected from the beds of canals or rivers) and medium (decomposed Berseemand farmyard manure) is spread over the casted fuzz
  • Water is sprinkled and the fungicide (Topsin-M) and insecticide (Referee) is also applied either by dissolving in water or directly
  • Fuzz is incubated at 30-35oC and at high humidity. It is achieved by walk-in tunnel (4-6’) constructed over the beds (Fig. 4)
  • This method so far proved best under local conditions and seedlings used to emerge after 6-8 days

Figure 4: Raised bed for sowing of fuzz covered with walk-in tunnel (4.5-5’ high).

Seedlings Maintenance

  • As the seedlings grow, trimming and fertilization is also practiced to maintain and promote their growth
  • Between 6-8 weeks of fuzz sowing, singling is done – practice to transplant individual seedling to a plastic bag of size 4x6” (Fig. 5)
  • These are then shifted to SRI, Faisalabad for further studies


Contact Us

Farooq Ahamd
Scientific Officer