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New Heliconia and Ginger Varieties for the Ornamental Industry

D. Marcsik, M. Hoult, C. Ford, A. Wilson Apprentice) and M. Hearnden (Biometrican) Berrimah Farm and Commercial Nurseries (Horticulture

Project Officers:



To promote market opportunities for the ornamental industry by providing new and unique Zingiberale (heliconia and ginger) varieties over the next three years. CURCUMA Introduction: Curcuma breeding is a continuation of the ginger breeding work that started in 1999. The primary focus of this breeding program was to develop new commercial cut-flower varieties, which resulted in six new commercial Zingiber spectabile varieties and a selection of Etlingera hybrids. However, the focus of the current Curcuma work is to develop a range of commercial ornamental varieties, both as cut-flowers and potted colour plants. Curcumas as a potted colour plant, has had more exposure on the Australian market and significantly greater exposure on the world market. As a cut-flower it is recognised as exotic and unusual, but having a short vase-life. A brief description is provided for the next phase of the Curcuma work on hybrid evaluation and selection to identify promising commercial cut-flower and potted colour types. Method: A field trial was established at Berrimah Farm to evaluate those families which had been selected as candidates for the cut-flower industry. The trial was a randomised complete block with five replications, each replication consisting of 28 families and four self-crossed parents, with one to seven hybrid seedlings to a family represented in a replication. Hybrid seedlings with visible leaves were planted in December 2004 in mounded rows 2.5 m apart and 50 cm within the row. Fertiliser was applied pre-plant at 500 kg/ha NPK Blue, 500 kg/ha single super phosphate, 1000 kg/ha lime and 1000 kg/ha gypsum. Irrigation was applied by T-tape at 5 L/m/h, twice a day for 2 hours. Plants were fertigated weekly throughout the flowering season by injecting through the T-tape 1.5 kg/ha/week urea and 1.2 kg/ha/week KNO3. Preliminary observations were made on inflorescence colour and form, stem length, hybrid vigour, plant habit and health, and flowering time. In April 2005, the NT cut-flower group (NTCFG) conducted a field walk and selected promising hybrids. Advertisements were made for an expression of interest to select suitable nurseries to participate in the commercial evaluation of selected Curcuma hybrids, as promising potted colour plants. Nurseries were selected primarily on their expertise in potted colour plant production and their established commercial markets.

Results: Preliminary observations indicate that hybrid vigour, rhizome health and performance of most hybrids under the full sun were generally very good. There were some losses on some sites, which were replaced with available hybrid seedlings of the same family or left vacant if no plants were available. Over 80% of the planted hybrids flowered in the first season with some hybrids achieving yields of up to 13 inflorescence stems. Flowering started at the beginning of January and continued through to the end of April, with heavy flowering occurring between February and March. During the NTCFG field walk, around 25 hybrids were selected by the group. Figure 2 shows some of the group's most liked Curcuma hybrids from the field trial. A commercial production nursery in Darwin, Queensland and New South Wales was selected to evaluate the other group of Curcuma hybrids. Each nursery received a select number of families, and where there were available hybrid numbers, the same family was allocated to each nursery. For the first season, only one visit was conducted to the Darwin nursery to observe and record those hybrids that were flowering. The Queensland nursery reported a few hybrids flowering but the NSW nursery did not report flowering. Conclusions: From the preliminary observations for the first Curcuma hybrids to flower this season, it appears there is potential to develop promising hybrids with improved hybrid vigour, range of inflorescence colour and form, and extended flowering. Significant improvement in hybrid vigour was seen in particular hybrids, which produced a large number of shoots and flowering stems. Furthermore, there were particular hybrids that performed well under the full sun, compared with their parents, which required at least 50% shade to grow well. At the next flowering season an intensive evaluation and screening of the Curcuma hybrid will be conducted to determine promising cut-flower types, as well as, promising potted colour plant types. In addition, visits to the three nurseries to screen and gather data on those hybrids is planned for the second flowering season.

Figure 1. A selection of the NT cut-flower group's most liked Curcuma hybrids

ZINGIBERALE (HELICONIA AND GINGER) Introduction: Pollination studies are conducted on a regular basis during flowering time on the different Zingiberale accessions, to test for pollen viability and cross-ability. This information is collated together with information from previous screening work conducted on the accessions maintained at Berrimah Farm. This will assist with further selection and breeding work. Crosses that result in seed-et and successful germination are of high value with regards to generating new germplasm material and potentially something with commercial ornamental promise. This report discusses the pollination studies conducted during 2004-05 and recent Zingiberale introductions at the Berrimah Farm horticulture block. Method: Selected crossings were performed on a number of Zingiber accessions to determine pollen viability and to test for cross-ability. Where crosses were successful the seeds were harvested soon after the capsule split open, and were sown in an open media of coco-peat:perlite (50:50). Date of germination and numbers germinated were recorded. Later, germinated seedlings were potted into 900 mL tree tubes using a potting media consisting of coco-peat:perlite (50:50) mixed with 6 g/L dolomite, 3 g/L 15N:4.4P:10K, six month control release fertiliser, 1 g/L FeSO4, 1 g/L Micromax ® and 1 g/L ZnSO4. Tissue culture plants and rhizomes donated by Tony Osborne from Kuranda Range Nursery were also potted up using the same growing media. Results: Table 1 lists the new accessions of Zingiberaceace and heliconia introductions into the ornamentals project. In general, most seeds germinated, except for Zingiber sp. `No.2' and Zingiber niveum that have not yet germinated. In addition, one of the Heliconia colgantea plants flowered while in the pot at the Berrimah Farm nursery (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Heliconia colgantea inflorescence

Conclusion: During 2004-05 a number of Zingiber hybrid and self-crossed seedlings were generated from the pollination studies. In addition, a number of open-pollinated seedlings of Heliconias and Etlingera, and new accessions of Curcumas have been introduced. These accessions are currently being maintained at the Berrimah Farm horticulture block, with the aim of reviewing and selecting with the NT cut-flower group those Zingiberale genera that warrant commercial development. DPIFM Horticulture acknowledges the generous supply of plants by Tony Osborne from Kuranda Range Nursery, and donation of seeds by Bruce Dunstan and Endre Guttmann. Also, thanks to Sharon Wilson at the George Brown Botanic Gardens for allowing us to collect Heliconia seeds from the gardens and Neal Witham for the Etlingera seeds.

Table 1. Zingiberale introductions during 2004-05 Zingiber Accession Zingiber hybrids Z. wrayii Z. pachysiphon Zingiber sp. Z. niveum Z. collinsii Z. niveum Z. parishii Z. malaysianum sp. nov Zingiber hybrids

Cultivar/ selection

`No. 2' `Silver streaks `Milky way' `Midnight'

Source Z. wrayii x Zinger sp. `Long Jowie' hand-crossed at BARC Selfed cross at BARC Selfed cross at BARC Selfed cross at BARC, ex B. Dunstan Selfed cross at BARC, ex Bangkok ex KRN, Tony Osborne ex KRN, Tony Osborne ex KRN, Tony Osborne ex KRN, Tony Osborne `Singapore gold' x `Apricot' and `Apricot' x Singapore gold' hand-crossed at BARC Source ex Endre Guttmann, Puerto Rico Various locations ex. George Brown Botanical Gardens, CPHRS, cut-flower farm Howard Springs Source ex KRN, Tony Osborne ex KRN, Tony Osborne ex KRN, Tony Osborne Source ex Neal Witham

Status Seedlings @ BARC nursery Seedlings at BARC nursery Seedlings at BARC nursery Seed sown; no germination Seed sown; no germination TC plants, potted on at BARC nursery Rhizomes, potted on at BARC nursery TC plants, potted on at BARC nursery TC plants, potted on at BARC nursery Hybrid plants currently being commercially tested on grower's property. Status Seed given to DPIFM. Seedlings potted on at BARC nursery Open-pollinated seed harvested. Seedlings potted on at BARC nursery.

Heliconia Accession H. colgantea H. chartacea

Cultivar/ selection

`Sexy pink'

Curcuma Accession C. alismatifolia C. aurantiaca C. roscoeana Other Gingers Accession Etlingera elatior var. Alba

Cultivar/ selection `Kimino pink' `Royal pink' `Jewel of Burma' Cultivar/ selection

Status TC plants, potted on at BARC nursery TC plants, potted on at BARC nursery TC plants, potted on at BARC nursery Status Open-pollinated seeds harvested from inflorescences. Seedlings potted on at BARC Seeds given to DPIFM, no germination yet. Open-pollinated seeds harvested from inflorescence, no germination yet.

Alpinia sp. Riedellia sp.

New Georgia `Pink coral'

ex Bruce Dunstan ex Lae Botanical Gardens


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