Terra Nova’s Heims & Sander: Tissue Culture Tips

Terra Nova's Heims & Sander: Tissue Culture Tips

Our world has changed thanks to tissue culture. From exotic orchids at Trader Joe’s to the Autumn Glory maples along our city streets, consumers and landscapers have both found the superior quality, health and vigor of these plants to be amazing.

Even before a plant enters the lab, it undergoes rigid viral testing by companies like Agdia, which runs as many as 21 different tests to make sure plants are as virus free as possible. These plants are called elite stock.

Under the sterile conditions of the lab, numbers of plants begin to increase after being placed into an agar gel with necessary hormones, sugars and salts. Multiplying these plants in geometrically increasing numbers, at specific intervals, can quickly bring a starter culture of a few plants to a hundred thousand in a year’s time. At some point, when the target goal has been reached, roots are needed. Plants are then transferred to a different medium that contains root hormone in the agar. Tissue culture plants are incredibly vigorous, but the agar-grown roots are extremely tender and must be replaced by stronger roots after being placed in the soil media.

With increasing shipping costs of full-sized plugs being a deterrent factor, more labs are sending huge numbers of plants out in Stage 3. These are rooted plantlets that come in agar or are placed on paper towels and gently rolled. Thousands of plants can then be sent in a standard cardboard shipping case. Temperature extremes must be avoided at this tender stage. Some of the world’s more primitive tissue culture-weaning facilities are in South Africa. Some of the world’s best are in Gensingen, Germany. All facilities produce plants, but losses can be high unless clean work and growing areas can be provided.

Environmental Factors In Weaning

Know that plants have been in a very stable growing environment under very high humidity (in the growing vessels). Terra Nova uses Delta T bench heat tubes under a steel bench mesh with a capillary mat and a woven poly top. The bottom heat is maintained at an even 72°F. The mesh prevents cold spots that can cause uneven results in rooting. Humidity needs to be monitored by a humidistat to maintain a relative humidity (RH) of 65 to 80 percent.

Some crops do require 80 to 90 percent RH and a responsible lab will help you with this information. Tents or tunnels on the benches covered with white poly can provide this high level of humidity. The sides of these tents are slowly raised over time as the plants are acclimated.

Additionally, Terra Nova uses 400-watt HPS lights for day length extension and night interruption. Lights are activated by a sensor that turns the light fixtures on if enough light is not received during the day. Cooler night temperatures of around 66°F are maintained. A nighttime heat retention blanket saves energy losses and a shade cloth is pulled over to shade the crops at a sensor-driven light point. High air-flow fans (HAF) keep a healthy flow of circulation around the plants and are not turned off.

Media & Planting

A sterile mix of 80 percent peat to 20 percent perlite is used in the plug trays. The soil is lime adjusted, taking into account the water pH (adjusted to 5.8 to 6.3). The soil is also given a weak starter charge of fertilizer. The trays are prefilled and watered via a water tunnel before planting. Plantlets are carefully pulled from the agar by crews working on stationary tables. Planters will pre-dibble holes with their forceps before placing the plantlet in the hole. All agar must be removed from the plants as it can be a hotbed for Botrytis.

The planting crew is responsible for grading the tissue culture plantlets by root size, crown and top growth. Burying a plant too deep will kill it by drowning. Planting it too high will kill it, too, as it would then desiccate the plant. Knowing which planters have low success rates can flash a red light for retraining on technique. Again, a responsible lab would show a customer the proper depth and planting technique. The trays are labeled and lot numbers are assigned. After planting, the flats are run through the water tunnel to be settled in.

Settling In

Every greenhouse has its own microclimates, and you will find certain crops like ferns prefer cooler spots while others prefer hot spots. Flats are placed on benches by variety and preferences.

For the first five days, misting by hand is the best procedure. A gentle, 50 ppm calcium-based fertilizer (CLF) is applied five to seven days after planting when regular watering can start. As small as the plantlets are, they have great vigor, almost seedling-like, and roots can be to the side of the cell in seven to 10 days. Terra Nova uses both biological and chemical control for shore flies or fungus gnats, which can be monitored by yellow cards. These pests can be devastating to a crop, so it’s important to start immediately with control.

Again, the more clean and sterile the growing areas are, the fewer problems you’ll have. It’s also important to sterilize benches between crops and watch for algae, a fungus gnat Motel 6. Botrytis and root diseases and molds like Thalaviopsis, Phytophthora and Rhizoctonia can be kept in check by fungicidal measures. Those on a more organic scheme can use nematodes for gnat control, and Mycorrhizal fungi inoculants and BT products like Serenade for fungal control.

Plants will be in the weaning process for four to 12 weeks depending on the variety. Once out, it can go into less humid greenhouses or shade houses. Always keep your eyes open for signs of desiccation. After four to six weeks of outside weaning, plants can be shipped or potted up into larger containers. Always remember to not bury plugs too deep–it’s the number one killer of tissue cultured material.

Takeaways

With the benefits of superior plant material and much-reduced shipping, it makes sense to bring in plants in Stage 3. As with all other crops, there is a formula–perhaps you could call it a recipe for success. Don’t underestimate the need for the proper soil medium, planting depth, high humidity–even light and temperatures and keeping it clean.

Leave a Reply

3 comments on “Terra Nova’s Heims & Sander: Tissue Culture Tips

  1. exvitro rooting is possible. we have been carrying our exvitro rooting of tissue culture plants over fifty kinds of horticultural, floricultural, forestry trees.such trees are still growing. I shall be happy to have email exchanges with you regarding the procedure. This procedure reduces the production cost three times less and increases the efficiency of incubation chambers several times more comapared to invitro rooting because you do not need the controlled facility for rooting of microshoots.

  2. exvitro rooting is possible. we have been carrying our exvitro rooting of tissue culture plants over fifty kinds of horticultural, floricultural, forestry trees.such trees are still growing. I shall be happy to have email exchanges with you regarding the procedure. This procedure reduces the production cost three times less and increases the efficiency of incubation chambers several times more comapared to invitro rooting because you do not need the controlled facility for rooting of microshoots.

More From Plant Culture...
Roots To Re-Entry’s ornamental plant nursery donates plants to local community gardens

August 4, 2015

Roots To Re-Entry Transforms Lives

An inspired employment initiative takes green-job training behind prison walls to help inmates find jobs in urban agriculture and the landscaping industry upon their release, and along the way, it is changing lives for the better. The Roots To Re-Entry (R2R) job training program, conceived by the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society (PHS) and its partners, does more than teach inmates of the Philadelphia Prison System the skills they need to find meaningful employment; it also teaches them invaluable life skills. The PHS staff leads participants through a 16-week course that includes hands-on projects designed to teach them horticultural skills and provide them with training in landscape maintenance and greenhouse growing. In addition to English and math, the nonprofit Federation of Neighborhood Centers (FNC) offers supplemental courses in health education and employment preparedness. Upon inmates’ release from prison, the FNC assists R2R graduates with the transition to life outside prison walls by […]

Read More
Oso Easy Lemon Zest rose_featured

August 4, 2015

Oso Easy Lemon Zest Rose Honored With Award Of Excellence

The American Rose Society (ARS) announced at the 2015 National Conference that Proven Winners received the Award of Excellence for Oso Easy Lemon Zest rose. To receive the Award of Excellence, a rose must prove itself in six different no-spray trial locations across the U.S. This is the second Proven Winners rose to win this prestigious award; Oso Happy Petit Pink rose received the Award of Excellence in 2012. “We are thrilled to receive this award from ARS for Oso Easy Lemon Zest, as its one of our favorite roses and a top seller,” says Tim Wood, product development, Spring Meadow Nursery. “A healthy-growing, self-cleaning rose that does not fade to white has been on a lot of people’s wish list, and this award confirms that this is a very special rose.” The Oso Easy Lemon Zest rose was developed by Chris Warner, the highly acclaimed rose breeder from Shropshire, England. […]

Read More
Heating Roundup Feature Image

August 1, 2015

5 New Heating Options For The Greenhouse

Five heating systems manufacturers share their latest and greatest products. Tubing And Aluminum Heat Pipes (BioTherm) From Megatube and MicroClimate tubing to DuoFin and StarFin aluminum heat pipe, BioTherm is dedicated to providing heat solutions that can withstand the toughest greenhouse environments. The MegaTube and MicroClimate tubing options are easy to install and ideal for bench or floor heating. The tubing has a conductive heating surface that allows for maximum root-zone heating. The DuoFin and StarFin aluminum pipe options are great for perimeter heating and melting snow trapped in the greenhouse gutter. It can also be useful for bench heating. Both pipe options provide gentle, radiant heat for plants and don’t require welding. TrueLeaf.net Infinite Energy 2 Condensing Boiler (Delta T Solutions) With up to 98 percent efficiency, the IE2 condensing boiler boasts a stainless steel heat exchanger with larger waterways to ensure maximum heat transfer. The product’s design ensures flexibility while […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Mike McGroarty, owner of Mike’s Backyard Nursery

July 29, 2015

Backyard Success: Mike McGroarty Educates Aspiring Grow…

Mike’s Backyard Nursery sits on a long, narrow, 5-acre property located in Perry, Ohio. There, customers can find a variety of flowering shrubs available, all in 2-quart pots, and all for sale for $5.97 each. Owner Mike McGroarty, a lifelong resident of Perry, says the town has a lot of plant nurseries, including 100 wholesale growers within a 10-mile radius of his house. That doesn’t discourage McGroarty, because he knows that while there are a lot of nurseries in his area, no one else is doing what he is doing. McGroarty has learned about plants — and marketing them to his audience — through decades of experience. He has never hesitated to pass along his knowledge to other growers looking to start their own backyard operations, and has created an entire program to educate aspiring growers. McGroarty Likes To Practice What He Preaches McGroarty’s operation serves as the laboratory for […]

Read More
cannabis, marijuana plant

June 27, 2015

Concern Grows Over Unregulated Pesticide Use On Cannabi…

As most growers know well, the federal government regulates all insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and other commercial chemicals used on agricultural crops. Therein lies the problem with use of chemicals on cannabis crops – so far, the feds want nothing to do with legalized marijuana. According to “Concern Grows Over Unregulated Pesticide Use On Cannabis,” a June 17 article on the National Public Radio (NPR) network by Agribusiness Reporter Luke Runyon, the lack of regulated chemicals for cannabis has left growers to experiment on their own. “In the absence of any direction the subject of pesticide use on the crop has just devolved to whatever people think is working or they think is appropriate,” said Colorado State University Entomologist Whitney Cranshaw in the NPR report. “Sometimes they’ve used some things that are appropriate, sometimes unsafe.” Denver officials held tens of thousands of marijuana plants earlier this year due to safety concerns, but […]

Read More
Great-spangledFritillary

June 16, 2015

The Butterfly Effect: Insect’s Wings Key To Azalea Poll…

A researcher from North Carolina State University (NC State) has found that in the case of the flame azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum), all pollinators are not created equal. In fact, due to the flower’s unique reproductive structure, butterflies — and specifically, their wings — are the key to pollination. The flame azalea is commonly found in the Appalachian Mountains, ranging from as far north as New York to Georgia in the south. Like most azaleas, the flowers are large, and have an unusual structure: both the anther (male) and stigma (female) parts are very elongated and separated from one another. NC State biologist Mary Jane Epps was interested in how the azalea’s flower structure affected its pollination. “In order for a plant to reproduce, a pollinator — usually an insect — has to spread the pollen from the anther to the stigma,” Epps says. “In the case of the flame azalea, […]

Read More
Bee on a Sedum

March 17, 2015

4 Key Pollinator Research Projects To Be Funded By Hort…

The Horticultural Research Institute will grant $125,000 in financial support for four key projects as part of the Horticultural Industry Bee & Pollinator Stewardship Initiative. The Initiative has three primary goals. First, to convene a task force to develop a bee and pollinator stewardship program, including creation of best management practices for plant production. Second, to identify and fund research that will help answer key science questions and fill gaps needed to design and refine the stewardship program. Third, to seek to positively position the horticultural community and its customers by collaborating with other compatible groups interested in augmenting pollinator habitat and protection.

Read More

March 11, 2015

Pollinator Initiative Promotes Bee-Friendly Talking Poi…

AmericanHort and the Society of American Florists are working tirelessly with the ornamental industry's Pollinator Stewardship Initiative on a number of new projects.

Read More

February 11, 2015

Infusion Technology Boosts Seed Performance, Study Sugg…

Seven-year-old wheat seed germination can increase by as much as 83 percent, according to a Vital Force Technology Study that looks at the effects of energy infusion technology on plant vitality.

Read More

February 3, 2015

American Floral Endowment Accepting Research Pre-Propos…

If you are pursuing a floriculture research project, now is the time to apply for funding through the American Floral Endowment. Research pre-proposal applications for 2015-2016 funding are due to AFE by June 1, 2015.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Marijuana’s Trajectory And Ascent To Horticultural Cr…

Marijuana growing is poised for change as growers and researchers focus on improving production practices.

Read More

December 9, 2014

Greenhouse Production: Two Years Of Basics & Beyond…

Greenhouse Grower's Basics & Beyond articles cover some of the latest news and research going on in greenhouse production. Here are article links for the last two years.

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

November 24, 2014

GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile &…

The social garden app GrowIt! takes the Gold Winner award at the design100 2014 Mobile & App Design Awards.

Read More

November 10, 2014

The Perennial Farm Joins HGTV HOME Plant Collection

The Perennial Farm joins the HGTV HOME Plant Collection growers' network for 2015.

Read More
AmericanHort

November 4, 2014

AmericanHort Publishes Revised American Standard For Nu…

AmericanHort announces the revised American Standard for Nursery Stock (ANSI Z60.1) is now available for industry use. The Standard reflects the consensus of the industry regarding how nursery stock — living plants other than annuals — should be specified and sold within the trade.

Read More

September 26, 2014

Master The Art Of Watering

Watering is elemental to healthy plants, but one of the hardest concepts for new employees to master in the greenhouse. Recommend these tips to start them off right.

Read More

September 16, 2014

Ball FloraPlant’s Las Limas Facility Provides Gro…

Ball FloraPlant’s Las Limas farm in Esteli, Nicaragua, is one year away from full production, but sales and quality from the two-year-old facility are right on track.

Read More
Erysimum 'Cheers' from Darwin Perennials

September 15, 2014

Darwin Perennials Takes Production Offshore In Bogota, …

With its recent purchase of a farm in Colombia, Darwin Perennials is ready to amp up supply of its perennial genetics, to provide growers with tried-and-true varieties and comprehensive production specifications.

Read More

July 23, 2014

Plan Now To Prevent Bract Edge Burn On Poinsettias

Reduce fertilizer and water, and allow your poinsettias to develop slowly during the final four weeks of production to avoid bract edge burn.

Read More

July 11, 2014

Growing Your Crops Above Their Base Temperature

Lowering temperature set points in the greenhouse may help you combat rising heating costs.

Read More

May 1, 2014

Growers Report Nutritional Problems On Geraniums

In recent weeks, several growers have contacted Michigan State University Specialists about leaf discoloration on geraniums, especially the purpling of lower leaves.

Read More