Outdoor cultivation of sea vegetables

Y. Lipkin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The outdoor cultivation of sea vegetables is carried out on a large scale in the Orient, mainly in Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea and the Philippines. Food crops are the most important among the sea vegetables cultivated, with Porphyra and Undaria being the more important in Japan and Laminaria in China. Eucheuma, an industrial crop containing the phycocolloid carrageenan, is cultivated in wide areas of the Philippines. The cultivation of the major food crops, which developed quickly over the past 30 years, is largely based on the results of research, especially with regard to seeding procedures, which have reached a certain level of sophistication. The major crops of sea vegetables are cultivated attached to ropes or nets located in a suitable site and habitat. Crops of limited economic value, however, are still cultivated by the old, primitive method of planting on stones on the ocean bed and other similar means. The location and timing of farming are selected with regard to the requirements of the plants for light, temperature, water movement, exposure to air (for the intertidal species), etc. Cultivation of seeding material of the three food crops and seeding of ropes and nets is carried out indoors under more or less controlled conditions. When the sporelings become established they are transferred to cultivation grounds in the ocean. When the plantlets grow too densely (in Laminaria) they have to be separated and replanted at the correct distances. This is done several weeks after transplantation to the ocean, when they are large and sufficiently strong. Eucheuma and other industrial crops are propagated vegetatively, using cuttings and fragments as planting material. Where seawater is lacking in nutrients, fertilizers are applied to guarantee a higher yield. The harvest is carried out manually, except for Porphyra, for which mechanical harvesters are used. Sea vegetables are attacked by pathogens that may cause severe damage to the crops. Diseases caused by improper growing conditions are also known. Grazers may also inflict losses. In all major crops the strains cultivated have been selected. In a few cases hybridization and other genetic techniques have been used to obtain domesticated varieties that can grow and yield far beyond the limits of their wild-type parents. Despite the fact that some mechanization has been introduced into the cultivation of sea vegetables, it is still by and large a highly labor-intensive enterprise. Nevertheless, it competes well with terrestrial crops in the Orient from the economic point of view. Interest in the cultivation of sea vegetables is widespread in the West and much experimental work aimed at its materialization has been underway during the last ca. twenty years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-183
Number of pages25
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Feb 1985


  • Marine algae
  • Sea vegetables
  • Thalassonomy


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