When most people want to catch a bass, they use a bait-cast reel with brightly-colored spinners or noise-making jigs. If you don’t understand the technical fishing jargon, that’s okay, you’ll understand how an 8-year-old I once knew decided to go fishing instead.
This boy thought it would be great to maximize the efficiency of fishing on the pond outside his home. So, he took a long piece of wood and drove several nails halfway, attached varying lengths of fishing line, and added a hook and bait to each. He set his contraption out to sail into the pond overnight and went to bed dreaming of 4 or 5 or 8 fish the lines!
He went out the next morning and found his fishing boat around the bend of the pond. Excited, he picked it up, pulled on it and could feel added weight.The weight fought back against the pull, but not too hard, it felt more like fighting a grumpy boot than a feisty fish.
When the catch came in, it was a turtle about the size of both his hands.
Obviously, there’s more than one way to do something and the results can vary based on the actions taken.
When starting a new harvest, growers have many decisions to make, one of which is how to start their new plants. Of course, they could start from seed and deal with the added time, costs, and labor that goes into that process. But, many growers go for planting clones instead.
So, what’s the difference?
It’s not difficult to get a viable clone. For those who skipped Bio 204, deciduous (flowering) plants grow in two ways; they grow out, and they grow wide.
Widening occurs from stem cells in the outermost ‘green’ region of a stalk. They help form and maintain the plant’s protective bark. This growth is the basis for tree dating, a way to measure rings in the bark to determine how old a plant is (since growth is slow in the winter seasons and fast on sunnier days). Incidentally, plants grown near the equator, where there is little seasonal change in sun exposure, do not exhibit this phenomenon.
The plants ‘upwards’ growth occurs in regions called apical stems. These are located in the farthermost regions of every branch, and also the deepest roots. It’s the area where new leaves are formed. Apical regions contain stem cells, which continually divide and ‘push’ the apical region continually outwards, resulting in a branch growing longer and taller. A mature plant contains many apical regions.
To obtain clones, a grower simply needs to slice off an apical stem from the mother plant, and plant it deep enough that the stalk can obtain nutrients and repurpose those regions into roots. From there, it’s simply tending to the new plant in the appropriate way.
The downside to this, of course, is the damage done to the mother plant. Other negatives to this approach include increased susceptibility to disease, infection, and pests, especially if the mother plant had any health issues. This is because clones are genetically identical. If a disease can affect one, it can affect the entire crop. It’s for these and other reasons that some breeders, like Mark Lewis of NaPro Research, are much more interested in creating stable seed. “No one has taken the time to inbred lines that create parental lines,” Mark explained in an interview with T&T. “This is why everyone grows from clones. Our main clients want to create parental lines to have stable seed in the future. And with seed, you can just store it in the refrigerator. Clones need to be taken care of.”