The micro propagation laboratory was set up in 2004 which is when the current highly skilled lab manager, Jo Hilliam, joined the company. Currently the lab has three experienced full time key members of staff and 4 seasonal full-time members that join the team from late autumn to early spring, the busiest time of the year for this department.
The lab was initially set up with just a few varieties of strawberries and raspberries, but overtime, the lab has developed alongside the rest of the company and now produces over 1.6 million plants a year for the soft fruit industry, which has expanded to include many species and varieties.
As the company has continued to grow, so has the development of the lab, so since 2012 it has ventured into the ornamental market producing in excess of 20 exciting species of which many are brand new to the market. Ornamental experience in Tissue Culture continues to expand every year.
The success of the lab not only lies in the knowledgeable team and the management but also its close links with breeders and growers of all backgrounds of the industry, which they work very hard with to meet the demands of the market place.
As well as working with breeders, growers and the internal sales team, the micro propagation laboratory produces high health mother plants for our own production team so as we know our plants are true to type, virus free and the best quality possible for our field production and nursery stock.
They also play a key part in assisting with Research & Development programmes in order to fast-track new varieties from the breeding programmes all around the world.
No expense has been spared when developing the laboratory which outgrew its original location in Lincolnshire and had to be relocated to Cambridgeshire. Top of the range high-tech equipment has been invested in order to create one of the largest most successful micro propagation laboratories in the UK
The high standards of health and hygiene within the micropropagation laboratory have led to Hargreaves Plants achieving ISO Accreditation since 2006, (ISO-9001).
The laboratory is also inspected annually by PHPS (Plant Health Inspection body which is a division of ALPHA (FERA/DEFRA)). This body is also used to certify the health status of plant material after propagation but before release to the customer, whether internal or external, again by inspection. It is our policy to use the highest health grade available, usually Nuclear, Foundation or Super Elite, as initiation stocks to ensure the best quality finished product is possible.
All our plants can easily obtain a phytosanitary certificate which is an official document issued by the horticulture and Plant Health Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the marine to indicate that consignments of plants, plant products or other regulated articles meet specified phytosanitary import requirements, and are in conformity with the requirements of the national plant protection organisation (NPPO) of the importing country.
Stage 3 material is weaned off in our purpose built weaning facility to accommodate even the most difficult of plants at the vital rooting stage. The room is available all year round due to the high-tech functionality. Tissue culture material is a lot more delicate and sensitive to the environment coming out of its own micro climate and therefore extra care is needed in the first few days of weaning, like any cutting, great attention is needed to control the conditions to harden the plant up before releasing it to natures natural elements.
Some cultures are easier to wean then others so if you intend to wean a variety yourself, seek advice from our team in order to achieve a high success rate.
This unit is offered as part of our service if you have not got the appropriate facilities to wean your own delicate material or require a rooted plug, the nursery can then accommodate the material if you require an older plantlet or liner.