For thousands of years mankind has been carrying out the science of crop propagation which has helped to perpetuate the various crops that we grow today.
Crop propagation is the process of increasing plants by allowing them to reproduce themselves from one generation to the next.
Other plants growing in the wild have reproduced all the time without man’s support but special attention has been paid to particular species of plants that mankind requires for his own benefit.
Crops are propagated by seed, cuttings, grafting, and tissue culture.
The science of crop propagation is often driven by their desired characteristics like taste, colour, size and disease resistance.
As we were taught in biology classes, seeds are obtained after successful pollination and development of a fertilised ovule.
Farmers will choose seeds from plants with desirable qualities.
Sometimes, however, seeds can be disappointing when their offspring fail to be true to type and this is the reason farmers should seek expert guidance about the quality of the seeds they plant.
For some crops, propagation is done by planting part or a cutting of the crop.
This is the common way in which we plant cassava or sweet potatoes. Sometimes we plant part of the tubers, like in the case of yams and irish potatoes.
Other forms of vegetative propagation include cloning, grafting, and layering.
One big advantage with vegetative propagation is that the offspring is similar to the parent plant in every way thus the the farmer is assured of sustaining the crop’s desirable qualities.
This, however, also means that the plant is susceptible to the same pests and diseases as the mother plant.
Banana plants beget daughter plants which feed from parent plants until they are strong enough to stand on their own.
Grafting is done by uniting two different plant parts to become one plant.
Tissue culture is carried out by experts in laboratories where cells are turned into individual plants, making it possible to get thousands of plant-lets from just a few leaves of a particular plant.
The offspring is always similar to the parent plant, quite clean, and disease free.