In this article a survey is given on sugar cane breeding, as it was performed in Java during a period of about fifty years. When in the eighties of the nineteenth century sugar cane was heavily affected by the sereh disease it was Soltwedel, the first director of the Sugar Experiment Station “Midden Java”, who tried to obtain sereh resistant cane varieties by species hybridization, until his early death intervened. The first species hybrids were obtained in 1893 by Wakker, who crossed noble sugar cane, Saccharum officinarum, with Kassoer, considered by him as a wild species. In later years it appeared from morphological investigations by Jeswiet (1916) and from cytological investigations by Bremer (1921) that Kassoer is to be considered as a spontaneous hybrid between S. officinarum and S. spontaneum, the wild glagah. In 1895 Kobus imported the Indian sugar cane Chunnee in Java. Chunnee, not belonging to S. officinarum, was crossed with noble sugar cane (for the first time) in 1897. From this cross many clones were obtained which appeared to be resistant against the sereh disease but were highly susceptible to mosaic. The continued crossing between noble sugar cane and Kassoer, however, was very successful. Many clones were obtained, which as commercial varieties, showed a high degree of resistance against sereh disease and mosaic and moreover gave a much higher sugar production than the susceptible varieties of noble sugar cane.
The following terms are introduced: first, second and third nobilisation of the wild S. spontaneum. Kassoer cane itself is a product of the first nobilisation, the direct cross between noble sugar cane and wild cane. The back cross between Kassoer and noble sugar cane is called the second nobilisation. When cane varieties belonging to the second nobilisation are crossed again with noble sugar cane, the third nobilisation of S. spontaneum is said to take place. The well-known sugar cane variety 2878 P.O.J. belongs to the third nobilisation.
In all clones investigated Saccharum officinarum has 2n=80 chromosomes. Within S. spontaneum types occur which in chromosome number vary from 2n=48 to 2n=128. The Java glagah has 2n=112 chromosomes.
Clones of the first glagah nobilisation S. officinarum (n=40) x S. spontaneum (n=56) did not have 2n=40+56 chromosomes, but 2n=40+40+56=136 chromosomes.
In relation to the taxonomy of Saccharum many other cytological details are given. Within S. officinarum the basic chromosome number x=10. About S. spontaneum opinions are divided. The author supposes that x=6,8 and 10 are basic numbers of S. spontaneum.