23 June 1995

Beware stock of unknown origins

PLANTING material of unknown origin could damage the infant energy crop industry, according to Semundos Fiona Davies.

Already an agent for Swedish-bred willows, the company has linked up with German plant breeder Piccoplant to trial miscanthus in the UK.

"With such a long-term crop youve got to have good plants to start with," says Mrs Davies. Miscanthus, or elephant grass, can be grown relatively cheaply from rhizomes. But without knowing their origin there is no guarantee of hardiness or disease resistance. There are no official tests, she warns.

"We have the agency to produce sterile plants from meristems by micropropagation." Piccoplant has 15 years experience breeding lines with good frost and disease resistance, she adds. &#42