Fitzgerald Nurseries micropropagation up for honours

Irish plant producer Fitzgerald Nurseries has been short-listed in the Irish Laboratory Awards 2014.

The awards, which take place this month, recognise excellence and achievement in the industrial Irish laboratory environment and include entrants from across a wide range of business sectors. 

Fitzgerald Nurseries, the only plant production company to enter the awards, hopes its micro-propagation unit will be awarded the accolade of Laboratory of the Year. 

The grower is competing against large multinational corporations. It has previously been awarded category winner in the Irish Times/Intertrade Ireland Innovation awards 2011 for uniqueness in systems and processes. 

MyPlant laboratory was developed in 2004 by Pat Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Nurseries to produce new and unusual niche market plants from tissue culture.

The laboratory is primarily used to propagate plants in the Irish Primrose and EverColor ranges. Production from the laboratory now also includes mother plants for sweet potato varieties developed by Louisiana State University. Fitzgerald, who is the exclusive European head licensee for the university sweet potato programme is predicting production of more than 1,000,000 units in Europe for 2015.

Fitzgerald said: "It’s taken a long time to establish a leading micro-propagation laboratory in very challenging times so it is very satisfying to be short-listed for such an award and to be recognised by those outside the horticultural industry for our technical excellence. Innovation in horticulture needs to be recognised andrewarded if we want to develop a strong and dynamic industry."

Fitzgerald, who produces 1.2 million of micro-propagated plants annually in his laboratory and exports to 27 countries, believes there is further opportunity for the application of micro-propagation in ornamental horticulture, adding: "These awards will hopefully increase awareness of our new plants and production methods."

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