Main content area

On-farm tissue culture production of lingonberries

Talbot, V.L., Holloway, P.S.
Acta horticulturae 2002 no.574 pp. 405-408
Vaccinium vitis-idaea, ambient temperature, cooling, cultivars, experimental design, flowering, growers, longevity, planting, plastic film, rhizomes, rooting, summer, tissue culture, woody plants, Alaska, Sweden
Nearly all lingonberry cultivars available commercially in the United States are from Europe and exhibit two flowering periods per season. In Alaska, the first flowering period is insignificant and results in small yields. The second flowering occurs too late in the summer to produce mature fruit. Locally collected plant materials provide for development of lingonberry cultivars adapted to regional growing conditions. While lingonberries root readily from stem cuttings, there are several problems associated with stem cutting propagation: large amounts of stock plants are necessary to provide enough stem cuttings for commercial production; plants propagated from stem cuttings rarely produce rhizomes and do not form productive matted rows; and research in Sweden has suggested that plants from stem cuttings may have a limited life span which will eventually necessitate replacement of entire fields. Tissue culture provides an alternative for rapid propagation of large quantities of local cultivars. No commercial tissue culture labs exist in Alaska, so we developed a small on-farm tissue culture laboratory that is used to propagate local material for our own needs and eventually other local growers. The most significant challenges included: minimizing culture contamination, adequate ventilation and cooling in a very small laboratory space, defining optimum light and temperature environment in a location where typical experimental design was impossible, developing a system of microshoot rooting that minimized space, and maintenance of rooted cuttings for several months in winter prior to planting. Microshoot production has been extremely successful using Woody Plant Medium and Plant Preservative Mixture biocide to minimize contamination. Rooting was accomplished in thin layers of a peat-based medium rolled jellyroll fashion in plastic film. Although microshoot production was successful, rooting failures have been unacceptably high and require additional research.