UPDATE letter from Philip Rutter: Tissue Culture Cloning of Badgersett Hazels: Field Performance; Outstanding Success- AND- A Request for Your Support-

"The state of the art" when we started this research was very primitive; every stage of the culturing process was pretty much hit or miss; occasional success was possible, but rarely, and with nothing like reliability.

Over the past several years, Mr. Mehmet Nuri Nas, working in Dr. Paul Read's laboratories at the University of Nebraska, has moved hazel tissue culture all the way to commercial feasibility. His success is the result of long hours of work, some very intelligent innovation, and solid old fashioned dedication.

Here is where the project stands today: we have 4 different hazelnut clones that can now be produced basically at will. They are stable in culture, proliferate well, and can be regularly and easily rooted and "grown out". We now have clones growing in test plantings at Badgersett, 2 other sites in Minnesota, 2 sites in Wisconsin, and one in Ohio. Total number of clones growing in the field is now approaching 1000 plants.

The oldest of the clones in the field have only been outplanted for some 18 months, but we have already learned several critical things about them; the clones are quite vigorous, appear to grow quite normally, develop new sprouts from the crown of the plant in normal fashion, including after being cut entirely back (coppice), and 2 different clones, G-029-N-Cl and E-295-S-Cl, have already developed flowers; both male and female. That last point is tremendously important for our embryonic industry; it means we can realistically expect to reach the day when we will be reaping a significant harvest from clonal hazel plantings only 3 years old; perhaps, indeed, only 2 years old. The clones will not only eventually be cheaper to propagate than seedlings, but will produce nuts much sooner.

The news here is nothing short of wonderful. Virtually everything we could have hoped to accomplish in this time frame has been achieved; a very rare occurrence in research.

Of course, there remains much to do to fully realize and test the whole cloning and clone nut production package. We are only a few years into the work.

Primarily what remains to be done is to refine the process of "initiation"; ie. getting new clones "into culture". Hazelnuts have proven particularly difficult to initiate; unlike other woody plants, they appear to have a substantial microbial population that grows inside their tissues. In order for tissue culture to be successful, we must be able to grow cultures free of microorganisms; getting new cultures started continues to be difficult.

Partly as a result of this barrier, the 4 clones we have in successful culture are more the result of chance than choice; a common part of the learning process. In seeking a workable technique, hundreds of attempts at initiation were made, using many different methods and many different plants; but our success rate was, and continues to be, low. In my own opinion, it is unlikely that any of these 4 will prove to be a truly useful cultivar- 3 of them have multiple known flaws; the 4th is untested, having been derived from a newly germinated seed.

What remains to be done? We need to develop initiation protocols to the point where we can regularly take any interesting new plant and clone it. We need to test cloned plants in the field, and be sure they perform up to expectations, before suggesting farmers plant them as crops (this will take some years). We need to test several more specific pathways for growing cloned rooted microcuttings into field ready plants. And finally, we need to find one, or more, commercial plant propagation companies to undertake real, commercial production of these hazels.

At the moment, all the hazels being worked on are proprietary Badgersett clones; and Badgersett Research Corporation (BRC) intends to continue to support this work as completely as we can. But we need more help, and have 2 different ways to offer.


 

We have a unique opportunity right now; Mehmet is in the final stages of finishing up his work for the PhD degree, and for the past several months has been working exclusively on that and on the hazel cloning work. Without question, at the present time, Mehmet is the world expert on tissue culture of hazelnut. And if we can keep him funded for the next six months, he will be working nearly full time on moving the technology forward. It will be a long time before such an extraordinary stroke of luck comes our way again!

One way for folks help is the same pathway that helped get this all started: anyone can make a donation to the University of Nebraska in support of this research, get the tax benefit of the gift, and the right to purchase one cloned plant per dollar donated, at the simple cost of production. We continue to make and back this offer. LINK TO ORIGINAL OFFER

The second pathway is one now available to us since we have become a corporation: you can buy stock in Badgersett Research Corporation. Specifically, we are making a special limited offering to fund the cloning research: you can purchase a minimum block of $5,000 worth of stock (below the normal minimum). For that purchase, you get the stock, of course, but you also will share in the actual experimental clones Mehmet is now cranking out; each member in the program will share equally in each new batch of clones. When the first batch of clones came out of the lab, there were only 2 participating investors- so the batch was split in 2. The second batch was split 3 ways, which amounted to 200 clones per investor.

You can make a gift to the University of Nebraska at any time, of course. We cannot "make the offer to sell" stock, however, in a notice like this; stock sales are regulated by the SEC, and legally you need to see the BRC "Private Placement Memorandum" before buying. That is basically the same document as a "prospectus", but for a small start-up corporation that is not traded publicly. Lots of details. If you might be interested, by all means write and/or send me your phone number, and I'll be happy to talk with you, and send the necessary information.

The need for some additional financial support is urgent- the sooner Mehmet knows what we actually have to work with, money wise, the sooner he can get started with specific projects. If we wait too long, we will lose the chance; he is obligated to return to Turkey when his PhD, and related projects, are wrapped up.

 

If you would like to make an additional contribution to the University of Nebraska, please make your check out to "UNL woody crop improvement project", and send it to:

 

Dr. Paul Read, Hazels

377 Plant Sciences, East Campus

University of Nebraska

Lincoln, NE 68583-0724

 

If you are interested in the possibility of purchasing BRC stock, specifically earmarked for the support of the cloning research (or otherwise!), please contact me directly at the address below, or leave your message on our answering machine, and I'll call you back.

 

Sincerely,

Philip A. Rutter

President/CEO

Badgersett Research Corporation

RR 1, Box 141

Canton, MN 55922-9740

phone: (507) 743-8570