In order to produce the best tequila, it is key to count with agaves of the highest quality. This is why Casa Sauza makes sure that its raw material (agave) always arrives in optimal conditions and free of diseases. The micropropagation of the Agave Tequilana Weber blue variety, plays an important role in achieving high quality agave. Developing these techniques requires the work and research of specialists, which is why we asked our strategic supplier NSIP (Nature Source Improved Plants of Mexico) to share some information about this interesting process with us.
Micropropagation of the Agave Plant
Micropropagation of the Blue Agave plant, begins with the collection of outstanding plants found in Casa Sauza fields. They are chosen based on their productivity and vigor and must be pests/diseases free (Some of the diseases include: Fusarium moniliforme, Fusarium oxysporum, Thielaviopsis paradoxa, Cercospora agavicola, Pectobacterium carotovora).
The plants that get chosen, are taken to Casa Sauza's facilities to get washed and disinfected. Afterwards, they are transferred -under controlled temperature- to Nature Source Improved Plants (NSIP) facilities in Tapachula, Chiapas.
Once the plants are in NSIP, they are kept for 3 to 6 months in greenhouse with controlled temperature and humidity. At the end of this period, they are prepared and disinfected so they can be taken to the tissue culture laboratory.
At the laboratory, the plants are placed in containers with culture medium, which provides all the nutrients that are necessary for their development. This laboratory process lasts 12 months and goes through 3 different stages: Mother Plant, Multiplication and Rooting. On each of the stages, specific cuts are made under sterile conditions and a record of photoperiods and nutrients is kept.
- During the Mother Plant stage, a sanitary selection and verification takes place, complying thus with the phytosanitary requirements established by SAGARPA.
- During the Multiplication stage, the propagation is scaled in several cycles.
- During the Rooting stage, the plant is prepared to get planted under conditions that imply a greater challenge.
Afterwards, the plants are taken back to the greenhouse, where the process of adaptation and hardening takes place by means of a program of fertilization, monitoring and preventive and/or corrective applications. In addition, a quarterly evaluation of the diameter, vigor and root ball -for quality assurance- is carried out.
The process of adaptation and hardening lasts 18 months. Once it is completed, those plants that meet the quality standard specifications are chosen and packaged. The plants are transported under controlled conditions until they arrive to Casa Sauza, where it is verified that they in fact comply with the established parameters. Afterwards, the sowing of the material begins.
This whole process offers benefits such as safe, controlled and programmed supply of planting material, which complies with the qualitative specifications required (homogeneity, productivity, health and vigor).
In addition to quality, the right selection of growing conditions and a proper agronomic management translates into:
- Less than a 2% of plant decrease after sowing
- Harvest in five years and with an average content of reducing sugars between 20 to 24%.
- Significant reduction of the total cost per kilogram of raw material
The In Vitro Division of Agromod (affiliated company of Plenus Group) and Nature Source Genetics LLC have joined to create Nature Source Improved Plants LLC (NSIP), a one-of-a-kind company with experience on in vitro propagation of plants. They also have the most advanced technology in genetic improvement. This new company is located in Ithaca, New York, and in Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico.
NSIP Mexico is the only company in the world to have achieved the massive propagation of more than 22 million in vitro plants of Blue Agave, guaranteeing thus, the supply of "Elite" material for the tequila industry.
The in vitro Blue Agave plant is integrated in an INNOVATIVE PRODUCTION SYSTEM that allows to significantly increase the productivity of the crop, transferring to the field a technological package with "Elite" seeds and the best agricultural practices in proper soils and climates.
We thank NSIP, Mexico, for their contribution with this Micropropagation of Blue Agave article.
Learn more about our agricultural processes here:
Automation Process of Agricultural Work
Why Implementing a TPM Program in Agriculture?
Innovation at the Agave Fields Using Smart Agriculture
Or you can always come to Casa Sauza and take a look at our fields yourself. You won't be disappointed!