Australian scientists, sugar cane growers and the search for new gummosis-resistant and sucrose-rich varieties of sugar cane 1890-1920
Griggs, Peter (2003) Australian scientists, sugar cane growers and the search for new gummosis-resistant and sucrose-rich varieties of sugar cane 1890-1920. Historical Records of Australian Science, 14 (3). pp. 291-311.
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View at Publisher Website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/HR03002
The Australian sugar industry in the 1890s faced an agricultural crisis, as the standard cane varieties succumbed to the disease gummosis. Australian scientists were engaged by the Queensland government and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to identify new, gummosis-resistant cane varieties. This paper begins by outlining the organisations and personalities involved in this research. The diffusion of the new varieties throughout Australian sugar-producing districts is reconstructed in the second part of the paper. In the final section, the economic benefits of the new varieties are reviewed. The discussion will show that the scientists sought not only gummosis-resistant cane varieties, but also those that were sucrose-rich. Hence, what began as a crisis benefited the Australian sugar industry in the long-term, for the new varieties yielded more sugar and a damaging disease was defeated, albeit temporarily.
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