A clone is a genetically identical copy of the original biological entity it is multiplied from. Vegetative propagated Clonal plants developed from a single mother plant are true to type and have the most desirable genetic qualities of its parent. Clonal plantations are mainly found in forestry tree species and horticulture plantations. It can be also referred to as a set of genetically identical individuals that are propagated from the cuttings of the mother plant l, instead of using traditional plant seedlings developed from seed. A mother plant is a plant from which the cuttings are taken for multiplication of clones.
Here are some factors why Clonal Planting is an emerging approach amongst Commercial Plantations
- Clonal forestry offers a great capability to deliver the best benefits from an individual plant. Vegetative forests possess a better quality of wood and higher calibrated growth.
- Genetically fulfilled mother plants offer average yields of 2.5 times higher than usually occurring forests. It helps in the productivity of such forest plantations. It helps in the conservation and multiplication of rare and endangered species without blocking large-scale production.
- Vegetative plants can o reduce the overall growth cycle of the plant and also increases productivity. Clonal planting helps to preserve specific species of the plants. A group of such plants can be used for studying or breeding. Clonal banks contain rare and valuable plants that are mainly conserved in a laboratory for research purposes.
- Production of disease-free plants/trees is possible. Certain plant species are vulnerable to some diseases or external pests. The vegetative approach helps to build resistant Clonal plants selection process can result in increased flowering and better defense mechanisms to fight against diseases and pests.
- Clonal plantation breeding programs can achieve faster genetic gains rather than that of traditional tree breeding. Captures a wide range of additive and non-additive genetic variation by such breeding. However, Clonal Plantations should be supported by long term breeding programs for specific traits.
- Multiple trait-selection programs offer superior clones that are further increased and preserved which is cost-effective. Some genotypes are costly but valuable, they are mainly cloned in order to preserve their generation as well as to save unusual expenses.
Merchantability of Clonal Plantations
Implementation of National Forest policy in 1988, had a clear sign that the forest-based industries needed to develop their own raw material for their purposes. It created immense scope for establishing large-scale commercial agro forestry in farmer lands in a stipulated amount of time. The initial Agro forestry plantations were developed with seedings of short rotation tree species. However, R&D programs led by Industry & many Govt organizations resulted in development Clonal Plantations of trees species; poplar, Eucalyptus, Casuarina & Subabul. These plantations with short rotation period & higher productivity offered increase in farm incomes of farming communities..
Genetically improved clonal planting stock of eucalyptus, poplars, Casuarina, Subabul and acacias have changed the productivity and profitability rate of plantations. Many farmers in India have obtained yields above 50 MAI (Mean Annual Increment) under the clonal plantation approach. UKPL has been promoting the planting of clonal plantations by directly working with the farmers in several states. 3 million tonnes of poplar is produced annually in 4 major states such as UP, Uttarakhand, Haryana, and Punjab. With the current average price of Rs 5000 per tonne, this timber is Rs 1500 crores per year. Eucalyptus clones alone produce 2 million cubic meters of wood annually at 5 years of rotation. The same works for poles and pulpwood, the current average price of Rs 2500 per tonne is valued at 5000 to 6000 million rupees per annum. The wood-based industries promote the value through processing.
Clonal plantations also assist paper industries to fulfill their raw material requirement. It is a big pressure for paper industries to collect raw materials from farmer fields. For that, several plantation programs have been initiated by such industries, and today also these industries are satisfying their need by producing raw material through mass production and plantation of specific tree species. Paper mills have set up technology base modern clonal nurseries to produce lacs of clonal plants annually of different pulpwood tree species through vegetative propagation. These paper mills distribute lacs of clonal plants amongst the farmers in the catchment of their paper mill units in various states of India.. Such industries continuously work with farmers to promote clonal plantations on an annual basis keeping their future requirements in mind. These plantations today also cater to the requirement of other wood-based Industries; ply mills etc. which do not have their own Plantation programs.
UKPL is a leading agroforestry company that is helping farmers by supplying soil specific, high wood yielding clonal plants. UKPL mostly works with small and marginal farmers to encourage them to raise Clonal Plantations in their rain fed farm lands. . They conduct farmer meetings to spread awareness about specific tree species and their plantation techniques in various Agroforestry Models. With the use of contract farming, UKPL builds a direct market linkage which assists farmers to sell their products without the help of middlemen.