Crop: Trifolium pratense ssp. pratense L. (Red clover)

The landrace red clover is cultivated in the region of Kuopio town in the central part of Finland (Northern Savonia Region).

Farmer’s grandfather brought some red clover seed to the farm in year 1930. It was cultivated as feed for cattle.  Cultivation was dropped in year 1978 because of the changing hay harvesting methods from haycocks to bales. Later timothy was grown for feed, and the old red clover nearly disappeared. However, some red clovers had survived in timothy fields, and in 1993 they were manually collected for multiplying. Its first seed yield was harvested in 1996: the yield was about 70 kilos from the area of 70 ares. (Farmer interview 2019).  In 2002 it was registered as a conservation varieties among the first ones in Finland and named as ‘Perttuli’ (Finnish Food Authority 2019b).

It grows extremely long, even more than 170 cm. It has proved to be a strong landrace which has survived also in flooding fields. Vegetation is at best for 2-3 years from sowing. It grows a long taproot which enables it to get nutrients from deep from ground. Its spherical inflorescence with long-tubed corolla is challenging for pollinators. Bumblebees’ long tongue is more reachable than honeybees’. Especially Bomus distinguendus species would be the most efficient pollinators for ‘Perttuli’, unfortunately they have become rare in Finland. At times white flowers appear in the field. It has a long-lasting blooming lasting until frost arrives. (Farmer interview 2019).

Cultivation System: organic conditions.

Geographical Information

Country: Finland

The ‘Perttuli’ seed producer is situated in the municipality of Kuopio located in the central part of Finland (Northern Savonia Region). In 2018 the farmer had 32 ha area of field under ‘Perttuli’. It is cultivated for fodder throughout Finland, according to farmer’s estimation in the area of about 500 ha. (Farmer interview 2019; no official statistics of cultivation area).

Farmer(s) description:

It is cultivated in the crop rotation lasting five years. During the first year, cereal crop (oat or barley) or turnip rape is grown and harvested. For the second year ‘Perttuli’ seeds are sown with cereal or turnip rape as a nurse crop. The nurse crop is harvested while red clover will grow as perennial in the field for 3-5 following years. (Farmer interview 2019).

Seed is selected randomly from a seed lot. Seed used approximately 8 kilos per hectare. Sowing is done in during May and June. In the early summer field is usually mowed down to make ‘Perttuli’ flower more evenly, to grow less herbaceous stem, and to disturb weed growth. It flourish in silty till but it can also be cultivated in clay soil. (Farmer interview 2019).

It is harvested during August and October. Some years it has been harvested exceptionally late in November. Seed yield is harvested during two years from the red clover field. Uneven ripening causes considerable seed losses: seed yield variates from zero to 450 kilos per hectare.  To minimise seed losses the farmer has made special adjustments to his harvest equipment. In the first and last year during the crop rotation’s five years period ‘Perttuli’ vegetation can be harvested for fodder or green manuring. (Farmer interview 2019).

Propagation system: Seed, cross-pollination

Multiplication procedures and consequences on landrace diversity:

Because red clover is a cross-pollinating plant, thus different varieties need to be cultivated far enough from each other.  The farmer does not cultivate other red clover varieties than ‘Perttuli’ and has sold its seed to neighbours to grow. (Farmer interview 2018, 2019).

The farmer produces mainly for seed, see description above. Harvesting and seed sorting requires much manual work.

Management plan existence:

As a registered conservation variety with a special maintenance subsidy paid, used farming methods must ensure that it is not mixed to other varieties and there will not be any undesirable cross-pollination. The maintainer needs also to keep a record book on cultivation and storing. Maintenance is controlled by Finnish Food Authorities by field inspection and post-control testing once in five years. (Finnish Food Authorities 2019b).

Added Values

Market - existing and novel:

One farmer produces ‘Perttuli’ seeds and its yearly seed sale is around 1,500 kilos. The seed production offers significant income to the farm.

It is cultivated for fodder throughout Finland, according to farmer’s estimation in the area of about 500 ha. (Farmer interview 2018; no official statistics of cultivation area). The accepted area of ‘Perttuli’ seed production was 12 ha in year 2018. In 2017 the maximum seed sale amount for the red clover conservation varieties was 2,190 kilos. (Finnish Food Authorities 2019c).

Others (e.g. commercial/geographical brands or special traits):

Perttuli’ is registered in Finland as a conservation variety in the European Common Catalogue of Conservation Varieties (EU Plant variety database 2019) in 2002 (Finnish Food Authority 2019c). The modified DUS-test is done during the registration process.

Pollinators are essential for seed production. The farmer co-operates with local honeybee farmers who have 22-26 beehives nearby.  (Farmer interview 2019). According to the Finnish beekeepers union 30% of seed yield in general is due to bee pollinating services.

Until year 2002 the farm had dairy cattle fed only with ‘Perttuli’. The farmer observed some positive effects in cattle health and milk quality compared to the earlier time when cattle was fed with timothy: cattle remained healthier and less problems occurred in gestation; better storage life of milk in the farm milk tank, higher fat content and better fat composition in milk. (Farmer interview 2019).

As registered a conservation variety, the farmer can apply for subsidies for the maintenance. It is paid by the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry under environmental subsidies. In order to get the subsidy the maintainer need to grow a registered conservation variety during the five year period to keep seed alive and have it stored it for two years use. Farmer can decide to grow it yearly or less. (Finnish Food Authority 2019b). The farmer would prefer subsidies paid for cultivation area, not the yearly lump sum. Subsidies paid from cultivation area could increase the interest for other farmers to cultivate ‘Perttuli’.  (Farmer interview 2018.)

‘Perttuli’ is in the process for long-term ex situ preservation in NordGen (Farmer interview 2019).

If ‘Perttuli’ provides economic values for farmers also in future, it remains in seed production. The farmer is convinced of the benefits of it for cattle health, field condition and in general for agricultural biodiversity and is motivated to cultivate it.

This landrace is registered in Finland as a conservation variety in the European Common Catalogue of Conservation Varieties.

‘Perttuli’ is listed to the official register of organic seed and other multiplied plant material. The register is based on the announcements of the companies which market the organic seed in Finland. (Finnish Food Authority 2019b). ‘Perttuli’ seed can be bought from a seed backing firm (Pohjolan Jyväjemmari oy) for cultivation and for hobby use from Maatiainen ry (Det lantliga kulturarvet in Swedish; The Finnish Landrace Association in English,) which is a non-governmental association for conserving traditional varieties of plants and animals and rural landscapes in Finland.

Case study provided by Natural Resource Institute (LUKE), Finland. Most of information were provided by Maarit Heinonen.