With over 40 years of experience in international biogenetics and tissue culture, Perfect Plants produces more than 30 million plants per year: 150 crops in more than 2000 varieties. When demand for young plants fell sharply during the crisis in 2006 and 2007, they kept doing what they were already good at, but in a new market.
Perfect Plants decided to start working on propagating plants with ingredient substances. This is an emerging international market with a lot of potential and five years ago they obtained a research license. The genetics are selected in Honselersdijk (Westland) and the small plants are reproduced in their laboratory South Africa and then sent to the growers. They ultimately sell the dried flowers to extraction companies and pharmaceuticals.
A new world
Mike van Schie, Head of Sales of Perfect Plants explains: “It might sound quite simple on paper, but we have put a lot of time and energy into investigating the properties of the ideal pharmaceutical plant. We examined every aspect such as the rooms where the plants are grown, the growth of the plant, the extraction of the substances, the cultivation and fluctuation (steerability) of substances as well as the safety protocols, et cetera. To do this, you need insight into how the end product, such as oil for example, is produced and what requirements are set for this product. The pharmaceutical world was completely new to us and we have learned a lot. We then used supply chain thinking to translate this into the genetics and tissue culture of the ideal plant. And of course, we do benefit from our long, proven track record in this.”
Producing a plant with ingredient substances
After the in vitro reproduction process, the tissue culture plants can be rooted in the lab, which takes about two to three weeks. The small shoots are then placed in a Grodan plug where they can continue to grow and root in. After two to three weeks, the plug goes to the block where the plant continues to grow for the last eight to ten weeks, develops strong roots and produces flowers.
Mike: “Quality, speed and uniformity are super important to our customers, and Perfect Plants can deliver this perfectly by providing the best genetics and plants. Once we have a small plant from tissue culture, transplanting to stone wool is almost a seamless step. Stone wool is such a good fit because of the sterility of the material. The fact that stone wool is steerable is an extremely important characteristic. It means a greater guarantee of plant uniformity and quality.”
Rob Kwinten, Business Development Manager at Grodan: “It really is remarkable to see how well stone wool fits into the production process for Perfect Plants. We also do tests regularly. For instance, we recently tested various sizes of plant holes to determine whether this influences rooting and plant development. These tests showed clear variations. This is how we keep getting a little bit closer to the ideal plant-block combination.”
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