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The tissue culture section of VSI has developed micropropagation technique for large scale production of true to type and disease free sugarcane plantlets using apical meristem culture technique. This allows faster multiplication of a sugarcane variety using smaller space.

To see the different stages of Sugarcane Micropropagation
click on the image

Different Stages of Micropropagation Technique

Tissue Culture technology is useful in developing plantlets of any plant species in the laboratory from any part of the plant. Using apical meristem culture technique faster multiplication of a sugarcane variety can be done. Apical meristem (growing part of sugarcane) is dissected and inoculated on a growth medium having definite nutrient composition. The apical meristem starts producing tillers in the laboratory after about 45 days of incubation in temperature and light controlled conditions. The procedure of separation of tillers, inoculation in a suitable medium and incubation under suitable conditions is repeated so that from one apical meristem one can develop millions of plantlets in a period of seven to eight months. The plantlets thus produced are absolutely disease free and true to their original variety from which apical meristem is obtained. The plantlets developed in the laboratory are hardened in temperature and humidity controlled green houses. The well hardened plantlets thus developed are useful in planting Breeder's seed nursery in three tier system of seed multiplication. A seed multiplication ratio of 1:25 (planting material for 25 hectares is obtained from one hectare seed nursery) is obtained from the seed nursery planted with tissue culture plantlets. Conventionally a seed multiplication ratio of 1:10 (and in conventional Breeder's seed nursery 1:5 or 1:7) is obtained. The well hardened plantlets developed when used give 98 to 100 % survival under field condition.
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Transplanting of Plantlets in field
The following methodology was developed for getting good quality planting material from micropropagated sugarcane plantlets
The plantlets well established and hardened in plastic bags are supplied in cardboard boxes. Each box contains 100 plantlets.
A well drained field should be selected and prepared as usual for raising seed nursery. Furrows should be opened at three feet distance. The recommended doses of manures and basal dose of fertilizers need to be applied while preparing the field. The applied fertilizers should be well mixed in the soil.
It is advisable to plant the plantlets in the field next day of supply. This helps in increasing survival under field condition. If next day planting is not possible due to unavoidable circumstances, then remove plantlets from the boxes and keep them in bright sunlight and water them profusely once in a day.
It is necessary to withhold watering the plantlets a day before planting in the field so that the soil in the plastic bag becomes hard and compact. This prevents damaging the root system during the removal of plastic bag. The damaged root system increases mortality in the field.
Under more saturated atmosphere it is necessary to withhold watering of the plantlets for more than two to three days so that the soil in the plastic bag becomes hard and compact.
Keep the plastic bags containing plantlets in the field on ridges.
Dig the pits of the size of the plastic bag at two feet distance in the center of the furrow.
Remove the plastic bag carefully by taking a vertical cut with a sharp blade without disturbing the soil ball.
Plant the plantlet in the pit and cover the base of plantlet with soil.
Irrigate the field immediately with good quality of water. The first irrigation should be given slowly so that the transplanted plantlet is not disturbed or damaged.
The other field operations and subsequent care should be taken as per the recommended practice for the conventional seed nursery.
Apply 16.5 Kgs. of granular lindane per hectare in the soil after fifteen days of transplantation and irrigate the field. This helps in preventing early shoot borer infestation.
While applying the subsequent doses of fertilizers care should be taken not to injure the transplanted plantlets. The soil should be dug along the furrow away from the base of the plantlets with the help of pickaxe, fertilizer applied and subsequently covered with soil and irrigation is given immediately. Spot application of fertilizers or ring method of application of fertilizers need strictly be avoided.
If necessary main shoot may be removed 35-40 days after transplanting.
The major earthing up needs to be done at 90-100 days after transplanting.
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Care to be taken while using planting material obtained from Micropropagated Sugarcane Plantlets
While planting Foundation Seed Nursery with the help of planting material obtained from tissue cultured plantlets care should be taken to use only nine to ten month old planting material.
The seed cane should be cut in to two eye budded setts with the help of sharp cutting knife and these need to be planted at a distance of nine to twelve inches.
Recommended doses of fertilizers need to be applied as per the schedule.
There is profuse tillering in the foundation seed plot planted with tissue culture planting material,. It is necessary to perform small earthing up operation after one and half months of planting and major earthing up after three to three and half months of planting to restrict unwanted tillering and to obtain good quality planting material.
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Advantages of using planting material from tissue cultured plantlets
The planting material obtained is genetically pure.
The planting material is disease and pest free. Therefore there is no need of giving Hot Water Treatment or Moist Hot Air Treatment to the planting material.
Multiplication of a sugarcane variety is faster.
2 to 21/2 times more planting material can be obtained from an unit area as compared to the conventionally planted seed plot.
98% bud germination in the field. All buds germinate within a period of ten days after planting.
Increase in sugarcane productivity to the tune of 30-35% and that in sugar recovery to the tune of 15%.
Helpful in implementing season and varietal planting and harvesting programme in the area of operation of a sugar factory.
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