Is Tissue Culturing the Future of Cannabis Cultivation?

The Cannabis Prep Room Needs to be Sterile. Call for Expert Advice

Many horticultural experts say tissue cultures is a far superior method to propagate and preserve a plant’s genetics according to this recent article in Marijuana Business Magazine, Scaling New Heights. Included in the article is a checklist about “Setting Up Shop” and includes autoclaves and a necessary tool as they are used for sterilizing instruments, glassware and media that will hold the tissue cultures.

An advantage of a tissue-culture operation is that it requires less space than clones do. This article estimates that outfitting a tissue-culture space costs about 75% more than a space needed to produce an equivalent number of clones; the tissue-culture space, however, will be roughly 10% the size of the space needed for clones. For example, if you wanted to make 2 million clones yearly with traditional methods, you would need a 30,000-square-foot space. To make 2 million clones with tissue cultures, you need only 2,000-3,000 square feet, Guelich estimated.

These advantages make tissue culture conducive to multiple different business models.

Large Canadian cultivators such as Canopy Growth and AgMedica Bioscience are setting up tissue-culture operations to produce at least some of their plants. They also see it as a way to outproduce the competition in a national marketplace, industry insiders said.

Others have harnessed tissue culture to start nurseries that provide cannabis plants to farmers. Front Range Bio­sciences in Colorado, for example, uses tissue culture to breed high-CBD strains and recreational-market strains, then micropropagates those to produce young plants that are sold to farmers. Front Range CEO Jonathan Vaught said the company has dozens of marijuana customers in California and Colorado, plus dozens of clients in the United States and Canada are buying the company’s plants that were bred and propagated for CBD.

While tissue culture is high-tech and can take cannabis production to new levels, it’s still a relatively new tool in marijuana that the industry is learning about.

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