Episode 25: Small plants that provide wood, fruit and purify the air


Small plants that provide quality wood, delicious fruit and purify the air.

„We look at them like babies,“ says the smiling woman, who arranges the seedlings by height – so that the stalks find peers equal in height and develop harmoniously with them. The stems are the offspring of the in vitro method. They grow in a microscopic world, fill several square metres, but can give life to entire acres of plantations of tree and shrub species.

They can supply in a short time quality timber, abundant amounts of biomass, high yields of raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, goji berries, can purify the air of carbon dioxide… And the whole recharging of green urban spaces and agricultural land begins here – on „Bansko road ”, near the fast-paced and panting Sofia.

In the lab, the rhythm is different. It requires patience, dexterity and attention to the miniature plant details.

Georgi Gutoranov, Head of Laboratory: “The plant is a normally grown plant outside, from which we take cuttings and use the lateral or apical bud to induce plants in the in vitro environment. It is a process of decontamination, sterilization, so that we have absolutely clean plants and the material we produce is free of viruses, bacteria or fungal contaminants. „

Creating a nutrient medium in small jars is a big challenge. The ingredients are changed several times to create optimal conditions for multiplication and rooting of plants.

„This is the most difficult process – to optimize and get a nutrient medium that is good enough to produce ten new plants in one month.“

The stage of reproduction takes from 20 to 50 days, rooting takes two to three weeks, but the selection of a new species takes much longer – from 6 months to 3-4 years.

Georgi Gutoranov, head of laboratory: “There are several varieties of our raspberries, several varieties of paulownia, two varieties of goji berry. We also work on other crops that have not yet reached commercial realization. „

And the thousands of stalks that push to see the wide world have to endure a little more. They adapt to the external environment in greenhouses near the laboratory. Their stay lasts differently – depending on the species.

Teodora Georgieva, manager of a plant biotechnology company: „Raspberries, blackberries and rootstocks for fruit trees are grown about two months after the laboratory – they adapt about two weeks, about a month and a half, at most two stay in the greenhouse for cultivation and are for planting in the field. Regarding paulownia, our experience has shown that it should stay longer with us and for several years paulownia has been produced the previous year and is realized after spending the winter with us.

Only then are the selected species ready to prove their qualities. The seedlings for the impressive paulownia look fragile, but with the right climate, well-chosen soils and proper care, it develops its potential in a short time.

Teodora Georgieva, manager of a plant biotechnology company: In Bulgaria, between 7 and 9 years is the period in which one cubic meter of carcass wood would accumulate from one tree. Such are the data for Serbia. They usually cut down the trees in the seventh year. We already have plantations that have been cut down. For Italy, this period is significantly shorter – between 4 and 5 years.

Of course, it all depends on the area and the goals of cultivation. The Belicia variety is preferred in the Balkans, paulownia loves the climate of Greece, Italy, France. After cutting from the same root, it grows a new shoot, and the new tree grows much faster. The cleansing effect of paulownias has also been proven.

„Our calculations show that from one decare planted with paulownia, about three to three and a half tonnes of carbon dioxide can be absorbed in one year.“

Evidence of elite selection of raspberries are the early varieties such as Shona, large and abundant fruits of Apema and perennial Emona, which bears fruit until the New Year. It is good to remember that all this is the result of long work.

„One plant, one stalk of raspberries, passes through a human hand at least seven times before going to the customer.“

Because the in vitro method cannot be automated. With it, every plant needs special, human care. All year round.