Evaluation of the Efficiency of <i>Opuntia ficus-indica</i> Cladode Cuttings for Vegetative Multiplication
In Tunisia, Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill., occupying many hundreds of thousand hectares, constitutes a future plant as a fruit tree, mainly due to its edible fruit and vegetal mass used as food. The continuously increasing demand for young plants for the extension of its cultivation requires the research of rapid, efficiency and economic methods ensuring conformity multiplication. With aim to a large production of plant material, a rapid in situ propagation method of the prickly pear cactus was developed. Varied portions of Opuntia ficus-indica cladodes harvested in spring or in autumn, planted horizontally or vertically were used in order to optimize rhizogenesis and secondary cladode initiation rates. Half, quarter and the tenth of cladode cuttings harvested and planted in spring vertically and in normal polarity show very interesting results concerning rhizogenesis and caulogenesis. Those portions of cladodes demonstrated the best results, vertically planted in normal polarity and 100% of rooting was observed on right ones. The number of roots was the highest on basal right tenth cuttings (80). Contrariwise, the percentage of secondary cladodes initiated was the highest on apical right cuttings (70 and 74%) and the longest roots were initiated on the two basal tenth cuttings, left and right ones (13 and 14 cm). This fragmentation represents a substantially gain of material and time especially for large cultivated surfaces of Opuntia ficus-indica. Reducing the cladode cutting size, do not reduce its rhizogenesis and caulogenesis potentialities.
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