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The seed laboratory and the freezers with the seeds is the heart every genebank. When we receive a seed test to the genebank, the seed laboratory is the first stop.

Seed samples arrive at NordGen in different ways. Someone can donate a seed sample to us, we can collect seed samples from nature or they will come to the seed laboratory from our own greenhouses and fields after propagation. When a seed sample enters the seed laboratory, it is cleaned and then put in the drying room where it can stay for about three months until it has a water content of max 7%. The seeds are then weighed and packaged in bags made of laminated layers of plastic and aluminum before being registered in our database and placed in a specific location in one of our freezers. But the work does not end there.

A person at a desk is studying something using a magnifier.

Quality Assurance

NordGen is not only responsible for preserving the seeds. They should also maintain a good quality. We therefore regularly perform germination tests on the seeds to check that they are still alive. To perform germination analyzes, a solid knowledge is required. Different species require different conditions for germination. Some need to soak, others to be trated with sandpaper and some must be put in incubation cabinets for six months before they germinate. Every year about 2.000 germination tests are done in NordGen’s seed laboratory. If the germination proves to be too low, we sow the plant in our fields or greenhouses and collect new seeds.

A collage showing a person in front of a freezer filled with small bags and seeds germinating.

Seed Distribution

As a genebank, NordGen is also required to send out seed samples to researchers, breeders and educators who may need the material for scientific purposes. Every year, we distribute up to 10.000 seed samples from our seed collection to the Nordic countries and the rest of the world. In addition, we distribute some 4.000 seed samples from the surplus of our propagation to hobby growers for private use. Every year from March 1 to May 31, our webshop is open for customers in the Nordic countries.

Several levels of security

The Nordic seed collection is crucial for the adaptation of Nordic agriculture to future challenges. In other words, it is priceless. Therefore, it is important that we protect it in different ways, including copies of almost all seeds in two different places. Alnarp holds the active stock from which we take seeds to work with that are to be distributed or germination analyzed. But according to FAO’s gene banking standards, we also need a back-up of the seeds elsewhere. NordGen’s base stock is located in Denmark and a large part of the collection is also backed up in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

Seed orders

Read more in the subpage Seed requests how to order seeds for scientific use. Hobby growers are welcome to read more about our webshop (available in Swedish for customers in the Nordic countries).