Thai Researcher Finds New Breed of White Leaf-Free Sugarcane for Thai Farmers

The Thailand Research Fund (TRF) and Kasetsart University collaboratively carried out research on white leaf-free sugarcane after successful study on the issue in terms of tissue culture by technology of modernized refined stem propagation done by a researcher team of the Faculty of Agriculture, Kasetsart University’s Kamphaeng Saen Campus. 100,000 seedlings have been recently distributed to representatives of 6 local sugar factories so that Thai farmers plant them later.

Assoc. Prof. Supaporn Klinkong, a researcher of the Department of Virology, Faculty of Agriculture, Kasetsart University, revealed that the white leaf was a sugarcane disease causing over 2 billion Baht damage. The major cause comes from phytoplasma which is infected from one plant’s stem to others or some sucking insects like cicada or aphid. Increasing sugarcane production by farming area expansion results in shortage of sugarcane stems and transport of some stems infected by phytoplasma. Consequently, the white left disease is widespread. To make things worse, local sugarcane farm owners usually keep their products for further planting, widening plant infected areas each year and causing long-term damage from the white leaf disease.

Using white leaf-free sugarcane’s stems made by tissue culture, seedling nursery as well as sugarcane production along with farm inspection and pest control is an effective way to reduce infection of the white leaf leaf disease in the long run. Funded by the TRF, the project on white leaf disease prevention was carried out three times. In 2016, the project was entitled, “Result Expansion of Technology of White Leaf Free Sugarcane Production”; in 2017, it was entitled, “Making Seedling Plots for White Leaf Free Sugarcane”; in 2019, it was named, “Promotion and Follow up on Technology of Production of White Leaf Free Sugarcane Seedlings for Thai Farmers.” Currently, such technology is being practically applied to white leaf free sugarcane’s tissue culture, technologically-based sugarcane propagation by bioreactor systems, seedling nursery in insect free greenhouses, development of high sensitivity techniques as well as using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP).

“The pioneer project on propagation of white leaf-free sugarcane already distributed a total of 100,000 Khon Kan 3 sugarcane and LK92-11 to local Thai farmers who will replace them with existing stems. The distribution was done to local sugar manufacturing companies, namely Khon Kan Sugar Public Company Limited, Buriram Sugar Public Company Limited, Ha-As Co. Ltd., Phisanulok Sugarcane Factory, Thai Rung Ruang Group, Wang Kanai Co. Ltd., and Kaset Thai International Sugar Corporation Public Company Limited. Also, production of white leaf-free sugarcane was disseminated along with guidelines for local Thai farmers to receive the newly developed seedlings for plantation.
Planting white leaf-free sugarcane is a good sign for Thai farmers as it promises good quality and value for money products which later result in improved national sugar export. Interested people can contact the Coordinating Bureau on Sugar and Sugarcane Project at tel. 094 931 4114 or 094 986 2020 or e-mail: kusugarproject@gmail.com