Research on mother plants and propagation essential for the Cannabis sector

Published on 27/01/2021

In recent years more and more research on Cannabis sativa L. is conducted with the industry trying to make up for the lack of scientific research in the past due difficult legal compliance situations. Cultivators is contributing to these research efforts by conducting medicinal cannabis propagation trials at the research facilities of the Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in 2020.

Nowadays, research on cannabis cultivation especially focusses on the flowering stage, aiming to manipulate phytochemical production in the plants. The goal of this research primarily focused on achieving high quality young plants with the ultimate goal of higher yields and consistency, assuring safe and sound products for medicines and recreational cannabis products.

Our consultants are regularly that the importance of taking care of mothers and propagation is underestimated. Between growers, there is a big difference in quality of propagation materials. Developing an optimized propagation plan with standardized procedures would improve this situation and take the cultivation of cannabis to a higher and consistent level. Also in research propagation of medicinal cannabis did not get extensive attention. From other horticultural crops it is known that good starting material is essential for a successful cultivation. Therefore, propagation trials were conducted by Felix Akens, intern of Cultivators, at the research facilities of the WUR under the supervision of Filip van Noort (WUR) and Sonny Moerenhout (Cultivators).

Two propagation methods are investigated, namely vegetative cuttings from mother plants and multiplication by tissue culture. A final propagation plan where both propagation types are combined has also been kept in mind. Both techniques have their pros and cons, but vegetative cuttings from mother plants is still most commonly used in the industry.

The experiments were conducted in the period of May to August 2020, exploring both propagation methods, but also two different varieties (White Widow & Afghani), the effect of topological manipulation on mother plants, rooting speed and cold storage of cannabis cuttings. Creating mother plants out of tissue culture with a standard set-up in terms of plant architecture results in more uniform root and shoot development. Creating protocols per variety in mother plant age, number of active meristems per plant is required for high success rates in propagation. Cold storage of fresh cuttings at 7°C is possible without significant differences in rooting speed. Findings of this research offer new insight when it comes to the production of propagated material, but also raised new questions and challenges which we are addressing in new research.

We continue with our research programs for cannabis cultivation. Results of other trials we will be spreading as we believe in growing together. In cooperation with our customers, our consultants, industry partners and research institutes. If you need support with research questions we are there to help you.

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