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  • Malkiat Singh Duhra

Punjab Agricultural University, Sugarcane Research Station Jalandhar

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

Sugarcane, Saccharum officinarum, is an important crop of Punjab. It was domesticated in Punjab since the Vedic times. All the sugarcane species interbreed and the major commercial cultivars are complex hybrids. Products like cane juice, jaggery cakes (gur), powered jaggary (shakkar), sugar, molasses and ethanol are directly obtained from sugarcane. The bagasse is burnt to provide heat and electricity, and it is also used as raw material for paper, chipboard, and utensils, because of its high cellulose content. The pressmud is used as manure and the sugarcane tops as fodder for animals. Systemic varietal improvement work on sugarcane by raising seedlings from the fluff of the crosses, selection of the clones possessing desirable traits in a clonal population and the evaluation of these selections was taken up by the Punjab Agricultural University in 1934, with the establishment of Sugarcane Research Station at Risalewala (Pakistan) and the Sub-Station at Jalandhar with financial assistance from the Imperial Council of Agricultural Research (now IARI). After partition in 1947, the Sugarcane Research Sub-Station in Jalandhar was upgraded to the main Sugarcane Research Station in Punjab to conduct research on sugarcane varietal improvement, agronomic management, and plant protection under the Department of Agriculture. The Sugarcane Research Station was transferred to Punjab Agricultural University Ludhiana in 1962, the year of its inception. Since then, research infrastructure and facilities have been strengthened. The All India Coordinated Research Project on sugarcane was implemented in 1970, which helped to gear up research on sugarcane at Sugarcane Research Station Jalandhar. The development of improved varieties since the early sixties has ushered in a revolution in sugarcane cultivation and the establishment of a multibillion dollar sugar industry in Punjab. In 1971, the Sugarcane Research Station (area of 75 acres) was taken by the Central Government for Boarders Security Forces and in 2001, the remaining entire area of 164 acres was taken by the Punjab Government for Medical College and residential colony. In 2001, sugarcane research shifted to U.S.F. Ladhowal and became a part of the Plant Breeding Department and later again shifted to Regional Research Station Kapurthala. The concerted efforts of sugarcane scientists developed, evaluated and released many wonder varieties of sugarcane resistant to diseases and insect pests with good traits like high sugar, early maturing, high yield and good ratooner. Suitable agronomic practices, integrated pest management of insect pests and diseases, biological control of insect pests were developed and recommend for the successful cultivation of sugarcane.

Varieties: Co 205, Co 231, Co 281, Co 285, Co 312, Co L 9, Co L 29, , Co, Co 453, Co 1148, Co 1158, Co 975, Co J 46, Co J 64, Co J 67, Co J 79, Co S 767, Co Pant 84211, Co LK 8102, Co J 83, Co J 81, Co J 82, Co J 84, Co J 85, Co J 88, Co 89003, The first commercially successful inter-specific hybrid in the world, Co 205, a hybrid between cultivated sugarcane, Saccharum officinarum and wild grass, Saccharum spontaneum (released in 1918) became popular in the province of Punjab during the 1920s. Co 312 released in 1928 dominated as the most popular variety in subtropical India for the next three decades. This mid-late variety occupied a maximum area in Punjab and later this was replaced by Co 1148 which remained in the field up to 1980. Co J 64 (high sugar, early maturing but susceptible to top borer) could not be released in 1970 for cultivation in Punjab for the want of top bore control. In 1972, a top bore control strategy was developed at the Sugarcane Research Station in Jalandhar and Co J 64 was released in 1974 for general cultivation in Punjab and later, this variety was released in Haryana, UP, Rajasthan and Pakistan. There were 6 Sugar Mills in Punjab and with the adoption of this variety, the average sugar recovery of the State increased by 1.5 units. On a recovery basis, Punjab got 16 new licenses of Sugar Mills from the Ministry of Agriculture Centre Government of India. In this way, Punjab became self-sufficient in sugar and also started exporting sugar to other states. This wonder variety revolutionized the sugar industry. The most outstanding contributions of the Sugarcane Research Station were the development of Co J 64, Co J 83, Co J85, high sugar and early maturing varieties, screening of sugarcane germplasm resistance to diseases and pests, integrated pest and diseases management, biological control of pests, and agronomic practices like fertilizer, weeds and irrigation management to achieve optimum yields. Dr. Malkiat Singh Duhra joined Punjab Agricultural University, Sugarcane Research Station Jalandhar, in the sugarcane research programme in February 1971, and worked continuously on sugarcane crop till he retired in September 2003. The first entomologist was A.N. Kalra who worked on sugarcane for 35 years, followed by entomologist Joginder Singh Sandhu who also worked for a long time (34 years) on this crop and retired in 1984. Dr. Duhra was lucky to work with these experienced entomologists. Kalra got a chance to work with Rehman, the First Entomologist of British Punjab.

Sugarcane Scientists: Botany/Plant Breeding: Harbans Singh, Dr. Sukdev Singh, Dr. C. N. Babu, Pritam Singh Dhillon, Dr. Mohinder Singh Aulakh, Dr. Harbans Lal Sharma, Dr. Pritam Rajput, Dr. Sardul Singh Dr. Karanjit Singh Thind, Dr. G. S. Sidhu, Dr. Charanjit Kaur Bedi Agronomy: Nand Singh, Dr. Ranvir Singh Kanwar, Dr. K. K. Sharma, Darshan Singh Deol, Arjan Singh, Dr. Balvir Singh Bains, Dr. Sirjit Singh, Dr. Balvir Singh Sidhu, Sudaghar Singh Entomology: A. N. Lalra, Joginder Singh Sandhu, G. M. Tripathi, Dr. Malkiat Singh Duhra, Sukdev Sharma, Dr. Mohan Lal Singla, Dr. Dharam Pal Singh, Ragvir Singh Ball, Dr. Bhopinder Singh Pathology: Sardul Singh, Balkishan Rattan Sharma, Dr. Darshan Singh Bihar, Dr. Karnail Singh Wraich, Dr. Vipen Kumar Sharma, Dr. Madhu Zindal Chemistry: Dr. Chawla, Dr. S. P. Jaspal, Dr. K. P. Sharma, Dr. Sudesh Kumar Batta, Dr. Amritpal Singh Mann, Dr. S. K. Upal, Dr. Jitinder Kaur, Dr. M. L. Kapur Physiology: Dr. Onkar Singh Chodhri, Dr. Sareen, Dr. Kamlash Kanwar, S. K. Sharma Statistics: Dr. Karnail Singh Labana The Sugarcane Research Station was also a Sub-Station of Cotton and Vegetables Research. Cotton: Dr. P.L. Tikku played a significant role in developing cotton varieties with good traits that are resistant to pests and diseases. Vegetable: Dr. N.P.S. Dhillon published excellent research publications in National and International Research Journals and got selected for International Research Programs of vegetables as the Principal Coordinator.

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