As soon as the Tyumen agrarians collected and laid in vegetable stores a new crop of potatoes, and in the laboratory of meristem cultures (meristem is a plant tissue that for a long time retains the ability to divide and form new cells) of the center of selection and seed production of the State Agrarian University of the Northern Trans-Urals, they have already begun to prepare virus-free planting material for in the spring of 2021.
Just the other day, the director of the center, Candidate of Agricultural Sciences, Alexander Kharalgin, brought from the Moscow region to Tyumen 100 test tubes with samples of lines 11 and 34 - these are two future table varieties of domestic selection with the working names Nadezhda and Kuznetsovsky. The specialists of the A.G. Federal Potato Research Center were responsible for their improvement for the final variety trials. Lorkha.
Now the head of the laboratory Olga Malchikhina and the laboratory assistant Elzana Yarova will be engaged in cutting and growing sprouts on nutrient media. When they reach the required volume, the plants are placed in an aeroponic installation. A harvest of 500 mini-nodules is expected here by the New Year. Until spring, the micro-potato will "rest" in containers with calcined sand at a temperature of + 4 degrees and a special ventilation mode, and in May it will go to the experimental areas of the university. According to the plan, next fall the crop of the first generation will be sent for testing to the regions of the 10th agricultural zone, that is, in addition to Tyumen, to Tomsk, Omsk, Krasnoyarsk, and Altai. By that time, Kharalgin believes, the GAU of the Northern Trans-Urals will receive a patent and replenish the collection of awards in the field of selection. In about four years, scientists intend to receive 16 tons of elite potatoes, and then enter seed farms.
The investor and the university invest in the project at least 50 percent of the funds, the rest is financed by the federal budget
In general, the journey from a primary potato plant in vitro to industrial production of a virus-free and pathogen-free crop takes five years. In the center of Kharalgin, using biotechnology, they promise to shorten the process by a year and get minitubers without leaving the greenhouse or in the field. This will become possible thanks to participation in the complex scientific and technical project (KNTP) "Selection, seed production and processing of competitive domestic potato varieties in the Tyumen region" within the framework of the federal program for the development of agriculture for 2017-2025. Such developments, initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, now employ 25 organizations throughout the country: they are bringing out not only new potatoes, but also sugar beets, grain and industrial crops. The customer of the KNTP was a well-known agricultural company from the Uporovskiy district of the Tyumen region. The investor and the university invest in the project at least 50 percent of the funds, the rest is financed by the federal budget. The investment is profitable: companies that have purchased the latest planting material will return up to 70 percent of their costs.
- Now on Russian counters 80 percent of varieties of vegetables of foreign selection, so we are working on the common task of import substitution and food security, - says Alexander Kharalgin, inviting him to see the laboratory of meristemic cultures.
Guests are allowed only into the so-called reception area. Students who have biotechnology classes here are also allowed into the washing and weighing room - to prepare nutrient solutions, wash dishes and put tools in their places. But in boxing Olga Malchikhina and Elzana Yarova are in charge. Here, as in surgery: gowns, hats, masks, gloves, disinfectants ... You can photograph sprouts with miniature sprouts only through glass.
The head of the center explains why the foreign varieties that came to us in the late 90s are still firmly holding their positions: in most cases they are offered by retail chains, and it is easier for the buyer to choose, not with his mind, but with his eyes, an overseas elegant root crop instead of a local, not shining wax.
“We rely not on appearance, but on taste,” the scientist explains and cites as an example the Kuznetsovsky variety, bred by Yuri Loginov on the basis of wild species. The potato, named after the legendary scout who once studied at the agronomic department of the Tyumen Agricultural Technical School, stands out for its excellent taste (four on the five-point scale of the state standard for variety testing) and does not darken after cleaning, both raw and boiled. He also quickly adapted to Siberian conditions and gives a good harvest both in drought and in the rainy season.
By the way, the technologies used by Tyumen residents are suitable not only for potatoes. Having learned about the laboratory in Tyumen, where plants are grown in test tubes, representatives of fruit nurseries turned here, dreaming of getting healthy planting stock of strawberries. And in Kazakhstan, healed planting material of apple and poplar trees is obtained from the meristem.
In the Tyumen region, a zone of risky farming, potatoes are produced by 97 agricultural enterprises. The annual gross harvest in the industrial sector is more than 200 thousand tons. Within the region, 130-135 thousand are sold, the rest is transported to Yamal, Ugra, Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk regions, exported to Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan.
Text: Irina Nikitina