Busy time in field and greenhouse
The activity is high at NordGenâs field and greenhouse, both for staff and bumblebees. The greenhouse is filled with plants, some accessions are already blooming and in the isolation tents are the bumble bees busy pollinating. In the fields are cultivation beds prepared, new isolation tunnels built, it is weeded, sown and planted for seeds to be produced later this summer and autumn.
Every autumn/winter NordGen staff selects the accessions that need to be cultivated the coming season. The most common reason for cultivation is to increase the seed amount in the seed storage. Some accessions need to be regenerated since the seed viability gradually decreases even in frozen conditions. Accessions are also cultivated to be checked that the species and variety is what it is said to be, and to be described and photographed.
When genebank accessions are cultivated for seed must the risks be minimized for cross-pollination from other varieties and and sometimes other species. This can be achieved by keeping proper distances between crossing varieties so that insects and wind cannot transfer pollen from one variety to another. For insect pollinated species it is also possible to use insect proof tents or cages, but then it is sometimes needed to also place bumblebees or other appropriate pollinators in the tents to ensure pollination.
Many different crops grow side by side in beds, on tables and floor. From the cereal collection there are 162 accessions in cultivation for multiplication. Most are barley (Hordeum ) but also wheat (Triticum ), oat (Avena ), rye (Secale ) och triticale (x Triticosecale ). Some accessions are wild species that demand extra care since the seeds mature over a long period and must be harvested by hand every day as they drop their seeds.
From the vegetables collection there are mutation lines of broad beans (Vicia ) from SvalĂ¶f Weibullâs breeding activities cultivated. There are several pea (Pisum ) accessions that have been donated by other gene banks such as the Vavilov Institute in Russia (VIR) and USDA in USA â older varieties with Nordic origin. There are several other vegetables, medicinal plants, crop wild relatives and also relict plants collected during recent years. In this context, relict plants means plants that have been grown by our ancestors are no longer cultivated on those places but there are still remnants, survivors, growing on the historical sites. Collecting missions have been initiated at ruins, monasteries and convents from medieval time, old manors and farms from different centuries, etc.
The ornamentals collection is under establishment and several accessions are the result of the NordGen public call for annual and biennial plants that was started in 2010. Many have also come in via cooperation with Nordic national programs and non-governmental seed saving organizations. Some of them need to be multiplied and this year there are poppies (Papaver ), Nicandra , Aquilegia , holly-hock (Alcea ), Lathyrus and Viola . The group of Chinese aster (Callistephus ) from the seed companies Ohlsens Enke and HammenhĂ¶g need to be regenerated and some of them are cultivated this year. Many Nordic varieties of ornamental plants was developed in the early and mid 1900s, but were not incorporated into the former Nordic Gene Bank as ornamentals were not the responsibility of the gene bank at that time. Tragically this has probably resulted in that most of these are lost. The hope is that some of them can be found saved by someone, for example saved privately by old breeders or their relatives, or by other persons with special interest. NordGen gratefully appreciates tips about seeds from old Nordic varieties!