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Much of NordGen’s work is about keeping the Nordic seed collection alive. Occasionally, the germination analyzes that we do in the seed laboratory show that the seed test is dying. It may also be that we have sent out a certain seed test to scientists and plant breeders so many times that we have too few seeds left. Then we need to produce new seeds or propagate the seed sample by growing the plant in our greenhouses and fields to collect new seeds.

When propagating plant species the level of difficulty varies, but overall the work in the greenhouses and fields is very resource-intensive. Some of the plants, mainly vegetables, are produced so as not to give seeds the first year and it can take up to three years before we have a complete seed harvest. This means three years of fertilization, watering, weeding and winter storage before harvest. Other species, such as cereals, provide harvest already in the first year. Greenhouse and fieldwork also requires solid knowledge and those who work here are often trained garden engineers or horticulturalists. In addition to harvesting seeds, our greenhouses and fields are important when we want to learn more about what a plant looks like and what properties it carries.

Garden, greenhouse and fields

NordGen has access to a large garden with greenhouses near our main office. In this area we have built insulation cages that prevent different plant species from pollinating each other. This is where most of the work takes place. But we also rent agricultural fields a bit outside Alnarp at Lönnstorp’s research station. The fields are mainly used for cereals and forage plants. 

A hand cuts off a dried seed pod using scissors.