Dr. Guochen Yang has been awarded a patent associated with a popular landscape evergreen that has the potential to increase production and profits for small-scale growers.
Yang, a professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design, has worked more than 10 years to formulate a micropropagation protocol he’s developed for Alexandrian laurel. The process reliably produces many of the plants in far less growing time than nature could.
Naturally, the laurel has a 20 percent chance of growth; growers that plant 100 seeds may get 20 plants. With Yang’s method, growers are guaranteed to get 100 shoots from 100 seeds, and each of those shoots has the potential to contain up to 50 plants. What’s more, the time each plant will take to grow to marketable size is reduced by one or two years, from six or seven years to four or five.
Yang’s research has been directly inspired by the commercial marketplace, with the owner of a local plant nursery encouraging him to find a quicker way than usual to get the slow-growing Alexandrian laurel to market.
Now, the patent that protects the Alexandrian laurel-growing protocols is the intellectual property of Yang and A&T. Landscapers, nursery operators or anyone else who wants to know how to grow the plant from tissue samples can do so, but must first sign a contract with A&T.
The shortened growing process overcomes the difficulty of cultivating enough sellable plants to make space in growers’ greenhouses, which can cost up to $15 per square foot, per year, pay.
“Once you get the formula, the protocol, you can quickly produce many plants,” Yang says. “Time is money. This has the potential to significantly increase the production, and profit margin, for U.S. agriculture overall.”