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Benefits of protected agriculture on Agave blue in mesh-shaded nurseries

From a cultural perspective, tequila (a product distilled from the Agave tequilana weber blue variety,) is considered both a drink and the national symbol par excellence. In Mexico in 2016, about 942,000 tons of agave was ground in states which are designated as having a guarantee of origin for cultivating agave and for tequila production (Consejo Regulador de Tequila, 2017).

For the micropropagation of the plant, a protected agriculture system (shaded nursery) is recommended, where the plant is acclimatized for a period of 9 to 12 months, before being transferred to the field (Torres et al 2006). This process is known as hardening, and has some advantages in terms of greater control over biological variables: morphology, physiology and plant adaptation, to mention a few (Crespo et al 2013, Prieto and Alarcón, 1998 and Rodríguez, 2008), and of physical variables such as irradiance, temperature, relative humidity and higher crop density. We should not ignore the benefits that fertigation represents for mesh-shaded nurseries, when used with seedlings of the closely related species Agave potatorum Zuuc, where it shows a greater development of and additional growth in the number of leaves, leaf dry weight, leaf area, stem diameter, dry stem weight, number of primary roots, root volume and root dry weight (Enríquez et al., 2016)

Although the continuous monitoring of shade-grown crops generates more productive yields, agave micropayment is no exception: the controlled environment, the adequate mixture of substrates and the application of an optimal irrigation system (intensity and periodicity) are what ultimately determine effective physiological development of agave (Sanchez et al., 2012), as well as in its proliferation and sanitary conditions (Tlapal, 2013).

As for pest control, the use of shading mesh provides greater control and effectiveness, for example in the use of biological controllers, A. tequilana anti-pathogens, which cause wilting by dehydrating the tissue and / or tamponade of the vascular bundles (Tequila Regulatory Council, 2005) triggered by several mycotic species of the Fusarium genus (Cuevas and Domínguez, 2007 and Tlapal, 2013).

Because of industrial processes, uniformity and the modernisation of crop management tecniques, A. tequila is considered monoculture, which increases the risk of disease. When using micropropogation methods with A. tequila in an environment protected by shading mesh, the genetic diversity of the species is greatly increased, as this method is carried out by a sexual pathway which encourages genetic mixture, something which does not happen when using the traditional technique used in the collection of rhizome shoots with direct transplanting, and without genetic recombination which is sensitive to any changes (Vicente and Del Real 2007).

The use of a mesh protected nursery is an option that undoubtedly improves the quantity and quality of the blue Agave plant, allows for greater control of pathogens, increases the efficiency of the fertilizers used, as well as preserves the diversity of the genetics of the species.

Biologist Julio Alejandro Freitas Montes Agricultural Statistical Information Technician State Information Office for Sustainable Rural Development (OEIDRUS); in Jalisco

References
  • Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT). 2005. Plagas y enfermedades del Agave tequilana Weber var Azul. Ed. Pandora. Impreso en México. 123p.
  • Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT). 2017. Estadísticas oficiales de producción de tequila y consumo de agave del año 2016. http://www.crt.org.mx. (consultado enero, 2017).
  • Crespo González, M.R., González Eguiarte, D.R., Rodríguez Macías, R., Rendón Salcido, L.A., del Real Laborde, J.I. & Torres Morán, J.P. 2013. Evaluación de la composta de bagazo de agave como componente de sustratos para producir plántulas de agave azul tequilero. Revista mexicana de ciencias agrícolas, 4(8): 1161-1173.
  • Cuevas, A.F. y Domínguez, V. X. 2007. Evaluación in vitro de aislados de Trichoderma spp. Encontrados en la region de Tequila, Jalisco contra Fusarium spp. Tesis de licenciatura. Universidad Autónoma Chapingo.
  • Enríquez del Valle, J.R., Alcara Vázquez, S.E., Rodríguez Ortiz, G., Miguel Luna, M.E. y C.M. Vázquez. 2016. Fertirriego en vivero a plantas de Agave potatorum Zucc micropropagadas-aclimatizadas. Rev. Mex. Cienc. Agríc. 7 (5): 1167-1177.
  • Prieto R., J. A. y M. Alarcon B. 1998. Producción de planta forestal. Folleto técnico número 10. Campo Experimental Valle del Guadiana-INFAP-SAGAR. Durango, Dgo. 19 p.
  • Rodríguez T., D. A. 2008. Indicadores de calidad de planta forestal. Mundi-Prensa. México, D. F. 156 p.
  • Sánchez M., E. A.; C. Rodríguez M. y R. Vergara G. 2012. Vivero experimental de la división de Ciencias Forestales. División de Ciencias Forestales. Universidad Autónoma de Chapingo. Texcoco. Edo. De México, México. 31 p
  • Tlapal Bolaños, B., González Hernández, H., Zavaleta Mejía, E., Sánchez García, P., Mora Aguilera, G., Nava Díaz, C., Real Laborde, J.I.D., & Rubio Cortes, R. 2014. Colonización de Trichoderma y Bacillus en Plántulas de Agave tequilana Weber, var. Azul y el Efecto Sobre la Fisiología de la Planta y Densidad de Fusarium. Revista mexicana de fitopatología, 32(1), 62-74.
  • Torres, M.; Morales, M. M.; Santacruz, F. y Rodríguez A. 2006. Micropropagación por organogénesis in vitro de Agave tequilana Weber variedad azul. Instituto de Manejo y Aprovechamiento de Recursos Fitogenéticos. Departamento de Producción Agrícola. Centro Universitario de Ciencias Biológicas y Agropecuarias. Universidad de Guadalajara. México. 89 p.
  • Vicente R., I., y J. I. Del Real L. 2007. Métodos de propagación del Agave tequilana Weber var. Azul. p. 57-67 In Rulfo V., F. O. et al. (ed.). Conocimiento y prácticas agronómicas para la producción de Agave tequilana Weber en la zona de denominación de origen del tequila. Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agrícolas y Pecuarias. Centro de Investigación Regional del Pacífico Centro.

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