A new and unprecedented method of rapid propagation of potato minitubers has been discovered by Quantum Tubers Corporation, was proven at the University of Wisconsin, and is now Patented in the United States. This Patented process provides for a geometric vs. linear method of growth in producing the quantity of materials needed for producing pathogen-free potato seed on a commercial basis worldwide. The method provides for seed potatoes known as minitubers.
Minitubers, which are produced from in vitro tissue cuttings, are completely pathogen free and are available for sale within the geographical markets which were heretofore, unavailable to commerce because of phytopathological problems. Further, minitubers are produced under this system in such large numbers that commercial development of seed potato markets and new potato varieties has now come of age and is of significant interest to seed producing and marketing companies.
It has been known since before the turn of the century that the use of high quality seed potatoes is the method of choice for preventing the decline in vigor that occurs due to the accumulation of pathogens when tubers are repeatedly recycled for "seed". Traditional potato production has involved the use of seed tubers that need to be continually monitored and evaluated for the presence of pathogens.
Since the early 1980s, the use of tissue culture methods has greatly facilitated the production process of pathogen-free potato seed. While tissue culture growth methods have improved the availability of pathogen-free nuclear stock, current production methods are only able to supply minitubers based on a labor intensive, low productivity-per-unit method. This method has not eliminated the number of production generations necessary to multiply seed stocks for use by commercial growers. Elimination of the field generations needed to multiply elite seed stocks is where the most important impact to the seed potato industry can be experienced. The Quantum Tubers™ system will, economically, eliminate 5 to 7 generations of seed potato multiplication by lowering the costs and raising the quantities of the first two field production generations.
This patented process has been developed to overcome the drawbacks in existing potato minituber production techniques and to provide a pioneering method of producing virus-free potato minitubers. The process has been tested and proofed with the cooperation of the University of Wisconsin's Plant Pathology Department utilizing their greenhouse and Biotron facilities. This new technology has the advantage of a short propagation time for harvestable seed tubers (40-50 days) and high numbers of tubers produced per square meter (10,000 per square meter annually) in the 1-5 gram range. These seed tubers can be planted in open field conditions to directly propagate seed stock tubers, effectively skipping several generations of costly field multiplication.
The technology is designed for industrial capacity in large scale commercial production. By applying proven, new technology and newly available equipment, the geographic and climatic limitations involved in seed potato production can be effectively eliminated. The economies of high production volumes per square meter, prolific seedling sources, and high survival rates, in addition to low preparation costs and reduced generations of field multiplication, represent a major change in nuclear stock production methods attributable to the new minituber production system.
The customer base for the production from this facility will fall into several categories as follows:
Seed Producers: Minitubers have been out of the reach of most potato seed producers because of a lack of sufficient supply. Currently, the need to shorten the production cycles of multiplied seed potato varieties is causing pressure on the market to provide minitubers in sufficient quantity which will actually change seed potato production as it is known today.
This supply availability of minituber seed stock will have the effect of causing a redistribution of the certified seed acres/hectares, and the potential for elimination of a minimum of four layers of Field Generations in any seed potato multiplication system.
Characteristics such as size, length, color, solid-matter content and starch type are all variety controllable, with new varieties constantly made available. Also, disease factors which are not evident prior to processing an end-product can be virtually eliminated which will check the growth of rejected manufactured goods.
Research & Private Companies: With the advent of transgenic manipulation of the potato for development of new varieties and new uses, comes a need for rapid multiplication of the seed stocks for commercial propagation of these new varieties.
Further, researchers are in need of developing a system for rapid-multiplication of recently produced materials so field testing quantities are easily available for proof-of-performance trials.
Seed Certification Agencies & Tissue Culture Laboratories: The standard method of obtaining minitubers has been from these two control sources, however the availability of minitubers is limited to an arithmetic function of the number of plants that can be physically handled by their facilities. Historically, production of minitubers in the low six figures is the upper limit of the abilities of seed certification agencies or tissue culture labs.
The Quantum Tubers™ fast-growth technique of growing minitubers can provide both of these types of organizations as contract purchasers, then as resellers of minitubers.
High costs for minitubers is inherent to the current seed production system because they are an elite product, however, the availability of the minitubers is actually the limitation of the current seed production system. Availability and cost force the seed producers to multiply the production from their early generation seed stocks for a further number of generations in order to sell economically priced seed pieces to commercial potato growers.
The Patented fast-growth process of producing minitubers provides for high volumes of economically priced pathogen-free materials which eliminates several Field Generations of seed multiplication within this new system.
Nuclear stock minitubers have traditionally been sold by weight and then planted in a given population per acre/hectare. Because of the problems of obtaining a given number of minitubers of the same size and weight, a pound/kilo could mean a handful of very large minitubers or a box full of pea-sized minitubers, and most likely both sizes mixed together. By contrast, Quantum Tubers™ technology provides for large numbers of minitubers of roughly equal size and weight as the final output of the system. The preferred method of sale with this standardized size and weight criteria will be by the tuber count method rather than by weight, which will more accurately match the required plants per acre/hectare population desired by the seed producer.
The more uniform size and weight of the minitubers will allow the seed producer to control populations more accurately with precise seed placement while using modern planting equipment which may also be used to plant other crops. This translates to a savings in handling equipment, transportation costs, transporting equipment, planting equipment, controlled atmosphere storage, personnel, and total asset investment generally.
Utilizing state-of-the-art technology, the patented process has been integrated into a fully automated commercial propagation system for the production of nuclear stock minitubers. The commercial system will develop potato plantlets from in vitro cuttings and maintain the growing plantlets during production of the minitubers. Minitubers are harvested in 40-50 days depending upon variety and size requirements. Following harvest, all tuber production will go through induced dormancy and storage for future sale to seed stock producers, or for further multiplication to FG 1 (Field Generation 1) and FG 2 generations by the Quantum Tubers™ system owner.
A commercial unit is based on utilizing a building of approximately 40,000 sq. ft., half of which is a controlled environment area and the remainder is additional support facilities which would include office space, lab facilities, open work area, cold storage, HVAC room, and an area for the water conditioning and nutrient distribution system. Personnel requirements call for 20-24 full-time and 4-8 part-time employees.
Lab facilities will require up-to-date laboratory equipment used for virus-free tissue culture production and initial plantlet growth. Additional equipment will be required to test potato tissue and plantlets for known viruses commonly found in potato stocks.
Following the growth cycle, minitubers would be harvested, hardened off and stored in cold storage necessary to induce required dormancy prior to planting.
Minitubers Produced In Space
A significant market for minitubers exists within the world and the buyers are highly fractionated with no clear production system available to service the market. The short-straw is that the technology needed for producing minitubers in adequate quantities has heretofore, not been available to the marketplace, therefore a new market segment is opened up by the presence of the Patented fast-growth minituber technology being made available by Quantum Tubers Corporation.
Seed producers, end-users/manufacturers, seed certification agencies and tissue culture labs along with commercial research companies, universities and even home gardeners will be dramatically affected by the introduction of this technology into the seed potato production system.
With the advent of this more workable seed potato delivery system based upon a compact seed potato with pathogen-free characteristics enabling seed to be transported legally and efficiently over long distances, comes the ability to provide some degree of market control and possible market dominance for the owner of this system. The new technology upon which the system is based has been proven at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the supervision of some of the leading authorities in the potato world today. The technology for this system has a ready-made market in place, the market is anxious for the product, and the product has been proven to work precisely as it is expected to work.
Purchase of the minituber production system is available through the franchise licensing of production rights, through Quantum Tubers Corporation.
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