Prepared by Damon Lippert April 2019
For thousands of years, farmers planted seeds to continue lines of crops. At many times around the world people discovered the process of artificial pollination (probably by watching bees!). This hand pollination allowed us to develop many of the food crops we use today from humble beginnings. We discovered grafting a branch from one type of apple tree onto another with worse fruit allowed us to have the kind of apples we wanted.
Cloning of small branches and fostering the cutting to develop roots now allows us to extend many generations of a plants with the exact same characteristics. Barring epigenetics changes due to environmental or stress factors, we ensure a favored strain stays around allowing us to breed further or preserve it. However, we must let the mother plant grow in order to take a big enough cutting that will thrive, limiting the numbers of plants we can clone at once.
Tissue Culturing(TC) solves several problems with cultivation through cloning and seeds and is now coming to be the preferred method of propagation. When set up properly in a clean environment, TC can create new plants faster, and with more control over diseases and even genetic expression.
How it Works!
Small samples of a plant (sometimes just a few cells!) are taken, sterilized, and are added to a special nutrient solution: an agar based gel with hormones and sugars added. By manipulating the mixtures over time with differing hormones and substance you can control the development of your tissue culture. The cultivator can even store the TC at this stage for an indefinite length of time.
When ready to turn your TC into viable plants you can start to add other hormones to promote root and stem development and produce hundreds of clones. These clones must be cared for in a special environment to help stabilize them to a greenhouse or indoor grow room.
Things to consider when setting up your TC system:
Tissue culturing can take up a drastically smaller space until you decide to produce your hundreds of clones, but that requires exact scheduling and record keeping to ensure your workflow is not interrupted. With all the benefits of TC, traditional cloning is still faster by a couple weeks per (but riskier), to utilize the sheer numbers you can produce with TC the longer development time works out for large producers at economies of scale.