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) 291 - 311
Published: 20 June 2003
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 (CSR) to identify new, gummosis-resistant cane varieties. This paper begins by outlining the organizations and personalities involved in this research. The distribution 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 scientists involved not only sought gummosis-resistant cane varieties, but also those that were sucrose-rich. Hence, what began as a potential agricultural catastrophe, benefited the Australian sugar industry in the long-term, since the new varieties yielded more sugar and a damaging disease was defeated, albeit temporarily.
Full text doi:10.1071/HR03002
© Australian Academy of Science 2002