In this article, we'd like to share with our audience one example of how we're able to alter the genetic expression of Kava plants without genetically modifying the plants DNA. We're often asked questions such as "So you've genetically modified the kava plant right?" and we explain, "No. We've altered the expression of the existing genes in kava by exposing it to various stressors so that the plant expresses more of the desirable traits we're looking for.
Above, you can see healthy starts for one of our Kali Kava varieties, currently in its 28th cycle. These healthy starts will be exposed to extreme environmental stressors to weed out the "weak" plants.
Here we see the plants after a 7 day exposure to 109F (43C) heat, 14 hours of daylight including at least 8 hours of direct unfiltered sunlight, and drought stress. As you can see, approximately 60-70% of the plants have perished. While sad, this is process of creating a stronger and more resilient kava plant.
After two weeks of extreme environmental stress, 90% of the original 500 plants have perished and we will now take these last standing survivors and nurse them back to health for two weeks. The ones that bounce back will be exposed to yet another round of extreme stress. Once we get down to the last 2 or 3 survivors out of the original 500, we will nurse them back to health and create new propagation material from these plants and start the process over again. This process happens 4 times a year and we're in our 7th year of doing this process.
We are currently in the process of finalizing a variety called "Myakka #1" which is particularly well suited for Florida soils and overall climate. We're quite satisfied with the vigor and cold tolerance and its ability to tolerate the basic limey soils of Florida with ease. These plants will be available for pickup if you're in Florida at either our Sarasota Kali Kava HQ or our South Florida Boca Raton Kali Kava HQ. Stay Tuned!