Inova Seeds (Ganzu) Ltd. Co., China
Climatic Potential of the Area
We are able to grow almost any type of vegetable from a climate point of view making use of the various climates or by adapting farming systems. Summers are moderate with no big fluctuations in temperature, which is favorable for vegetable seed production.
Winters are severe and long. This is both a good thing and a challenge.
A good thing since the extreme low winter temperature limits the ability of many pests and plant diseases to survive.
A challenge since with temperatures of minus 35 degrees Celsius it is impossible for bi-annual crops, like Brassicas, to get through the winter without frost damage. We have made that challenge into our benefit: we have developed a system of overwintering in underground tunnels. The system is very simple and makes use of opening and closing vents manually according to the temperature in the tunnel. This way there is the necessary cold induction required for vernalization but no frost damage. After the system was tested for a number of years and had proven itself at one of our own farms we translated it to a farmer situation making use of smaller, simpler tunnels in the farmerís back yard or near to the production field.
A challenge since winter ends late March and starts in October, making it a very short growing season. This very fact makes it essential that stock seed arrives in time to sow at the right time; if not we will miss the seasonís potential. To make full use of the season we have developed systems of having an early start despite of the climatic restrictions.
Depending on the crop these systems are:
- sowing the stock seed in a greenhouse nursery at one of our own farms and handing out the plants to the farmers early spring when frost is no longer a risk
- using the same system but making use of farmerís greenhouses especially contracted for that purpose in those areas where we do not have our own farm
- open field sowing under a plastic ground cover that, given the high light intensity even in winter, will warm up the soil enough for certain crops
- sowing the male line of a hybrid in a raised bed covered by low strawberry tunnel type plastic tunnels and the female under a plastic ground cover
- sowing the seed in dug out holes in a plastic covered raised beds that form a type of ďmini-greenhouseĒ hence raising the temperature more than plastic flat on the ground would do
Although ensuring an early start is the foundation of a successful season, it is not the only thing that is needed. We also carefully select the climate most suited for a certain crop in terms of temperature and humidity, from the wide range of altitudes that can be found.
The short season commands an intensive pollination period that is highly successful. This requires a strong and healthy plant and a good organization labor and timing wise. Over the years a lot of research was put into the right type of plant, the right moment to start the pollination and the moment to stop pollination, which has resulted in crop specific protocols. Those moments are enforced by our field-staff. The farmer can only then start pollinating when the field is found to be okay and the timing right. The same goes for determining the cut-off moment of pollination. The latter is very important. In case pollination is not cut-off in time, plants will put energy in seeds that canít come to full maturity; this would have a negative effect on the seed germination. But other than that: farmers could harvest immature seed negatively influencing the germination of the entire seed lot.
What has been said for temperature goes for the area being dry and having a low relative humidity as well. For certain crops the areaís dryness is a challenge. Applying an ingenious technique that is a combination of using the water retaining capacity of the soil and evaporation in early spring when melting water does not yet flow from the Qilian Mountains, farmers secure the required water supply needed for that phase of the growing season. As of late spring the extensive irrigation canal and water use a rotation system that is present in Ganzu, thereby securing the water supply for the rest of the season. Thus, having organized the water supply, now the dryness has become an advantage. An advantage because with hardly any rainfall and no rainfall except for the traditional three days of light rainfall late July, the fungal and bacterial disease pressure in the area is very low.
The Ganzu growing season is equal to that of Europe and California and therefore an off-season production for South East Asian and South American production locations.
The size of the plots that the farmers grow their crops on is very small, i.e., 3 to 5 mu (1 mu = 667 sqm) for an average farmer. The farmersí livelihood largely depends on the production that comes from that plot. The payment of production is such that quantity is overruled by quality. Given these facts it is obvious that these small, well manageable, plots are well taken care of by the farmer and his family. This obviously has a major impact on the quality of the seed. The other big advantage is that we can accept very small productions when you, as the customer, only have to produce a few kilograms of an introduction variety.
We have a very transparent organization with Oriental Seeds BV being your contact for placing an order and taking care of the administrative part and Inova Seed (Ganzu) Ltd. Co. placing the local contracts directly with farmers without the interference of a third party.
As in the past, we are continually investing in new production systems to offer our customers the most complete package possible. This production research takes place at our own farms after which the proven systems are translated to the farmer level. This has proven to be a successful system. If you canít find the product that you are looking for on our website it does not mean that we canít produce it. It could mean that we are doing trials with it already or are willing to trial them especially for you. What goes for products also goes for type of production. When you are looking for a specific production need like stock seed production, bud pollination of Brassicas, etcetera, just let us know and we will offer you the service right away because we have done it before or we will look into the possibility.
Cultural differences are what make the world a special and interesting place. In doing business it can however sometimes be a hurdle. With the mix of an Asian and European staff and communication possible in Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Italian and German, this will not be a problem with us. Our production progress reporting is frequent and elaborate. The reports are communicated by e-mail or fax. Next to written reports relevant picture material is e-mailed or sent to you on CD-Rom by postal service depending on the nature of the information.
Protection of Genetic Material
To meet your wishes on this important issue we have created a number of practical solutions to ensure that your genetic material is protected as much as possible, for example, by producing male lines separate from the female lines, producing male lines on our own farms, isolated production, and etcetera. We are also investigating other innovative ways to deal with protection of genetic material like importing pollen instead of sowing the male lines in China.
We do open pollinated as well as hybrid seed production. Depending on the species our service becomes more competitive when manual labor is involved. This is the case with hybrid seed production and, for example, bud pollination in Brassicas.
Although China is by far our largest production area, we have three other production locations as well.
Thailand, through Hsin Seeds, serves as counter season production of F1 tomato, pepper, melon, watermelon, squash and cucumber, as well as the preferred location for some crops and/or customersí wishes. Hsin Seeds is a reputable company and has a long history of doing business with us.
In France, Pontfoux in the department of Nievre, we have specialized F1 and O.P. productions of onions.
Holland, with its quality glasshouse productions, is the third location. Here we produce crops such as pellet quality lettuce and endive, stock seed of spinach, carrots and celeriac.