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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Commercial Miropropagation Laboratories in the United States

Author
item Zimmerman, Richard

Submitted to: Proc Int'L Symp Bacterial & Bacteria-Like Contaminates Plant Tissue Culture
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: September 6, 1996
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Micropropagation is the term used for propagating plants using sterile tissue culture (also called in vitro) procedures. It enables the propagator to produce many identical plants in a short period of time, weeks or months instead of years. Micropropagation was first developed on orchids and commercial use started about 1965. Success with orchids stimulated applications to foliage plants used for home and building interior decoration and then to many types of flower crops. The method was then adapted to vegetable crops and many types of woody plants. It is usually used with plant types where each individual plant has a high economic value since micropropagation is usually more expensive than conventional propagation methods. At present, commercial production by micropropagation in the United States is approximately 120 million plants per year. Production will continue to increase as tissue culture methods are developed for an ever wider range of crops and as research and development provide means to reduce the costs of the technique.

Technical Abstract: Commercial micropropagation in the U.S. dates to initial work with orchids about 1965. Applications were next made to foliage plants and flowering ornamentals before the technology was adapted for vegetable, fruit and ornamental woody plants and to a limited extent for forest trees. Now, about 120 million plants per year are micropropagated in U.S. commercial laboratories and this quantity seems certain to grow in the next decade. More than 110 commercial micropropagation laboratories are located in at least 27 states throughout the U.S.; many of these laboratories are located near important production areas of the horticultural industries that they service. Florida and California are the leading states in number of laboratories, laboratory capacity and plants produced. Production in individual laboratories varies from a few thousand to tens of millions of plants per year; the nine largest laboratories produce nearly 60% of the total. Foliage plants are more than half of the total output, with ferns and Spathiphyllum the leading crops. Flowering plants comprise about 17% of the total with Gerbera, orchids, Hemerocallis and Hosta the most important crops. Nearly 13% of the total output are woody plants, with Rhododendron, Nandina, Syringa, Acer, Betula and Eucalyptus the major genera. More than 10% of the total are vegetable crops with potato the main crop. The remaining production is split between fruit, mainly blueberry and raspberry, and miscellaneous crops, mainly mints and banana.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014
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