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Ina Belicka and Zigurds Kalmanis

Contribution of Jānis Lielmanis in plant breeding in Latvia

In autumn 1922, the Ministry of Agriculture of Latvia delegated agronomist Jānis Hilarijs Lielmanis (1895-1970) to organise and establish the State Stende Breeding Station. For many years, he was a director (1922-1940) and later a researcher (1945-1956) of the State Stende Breeding Station. Under the guidance of Lielmanis, an infrastructure for breeding work was formed and research into the morphological, biological, and economic traits of local plant varieties obtained from different Latvian regions were begun in the station. Already in 1924, breeders started breeding of cereals, peas, flax, potato, and clover, using selection from local and foreign varieties and also hybridisation. Until 1945, breeders in Stende, under the guidance of Jānis Lielmanis, developed 16 plant varieties, in the period from 1945 to 1960 — 19 varieties. Parallel to his work in Stende, Lielmanis delivered lectures on plant breeding at the University of Latvia (1933-1940) and lectures on genetics, breeding, and seed production at the Latvian University of Agriculture (1940-1944, then Jelgava Academy of Agriculture; 1945-1948). In the later part of his life, Lielmanis worked in the Latvian Scientific Research Institute of Agriculture (1957-1970), where he conducted research in crop farming and breeding of red clover using traditional breeding methods, as well as polyploidy and heterosis methods, which was modern for that time. The research results of oat growth and acclimatisation were summarised by Lielmanis in his habilitation paper (1933), and the results of breeding and growth of red clover — in his dissertation thesis. He was awarded a degree of candidate of agricultural sciences in 1957 and a doctoral degree in 1968. He was very principled in his scientific viewpoints; he supervised five doctoral theses written by candidates of agricultural sciences, published 457 scientific and popular-scientific articles, and wrote six books. Taking into consideration the contribution of Lielmanis to Latvian agricultural science, in 1995, the Jānis Lielmanis award was established, which has been received by breeders, breeding groups, and seed producers for their contribution in plant breeding and seed production in Latvia.

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Sanita Zute, Ina Belicka and Zigurds Kalmanis

State Stende Cereal Breeding Institute: From the Origins to the Present

Agricultural science is closely linked to circumstances and specific features of development in each region. The State Stende Breeding Station, the first breeding station in independent Latvia, was founded ninety years ago with a goal to raise agricultural production in the country. The Stende Breeding Station was engaged in selection of crop varieties suitable for Latvian conditions, providing farmers with high-quality seeds and knowledge on the cultivation of these varieties. During the years of its existence, the station has witnessed changes in political power, underwent different forms of management and operated under various names. A number of outstanding scientists and agronomists have worked at Stende, including J. Lielmanis, E. Bērziņš, J. Garbars, N. Konrāds, R. Kude, I. Celma, I. Belicka, M. Gruntiņa and others, who have devoted their entire working lives to agricultural science and breeding. In 2006, the agricultural science centre of Stende was transformed into the State Stende Cereal Breeding Institute. Breeding traditions, and cooperation with Latvian farmers, as well as accumulation of knowledge and experience of several generations of scholars is a frame for the existence of the Stende's institute. The most important contribution of Stende's breeders is 65 newly developed varieties of fifteen crop species. Today, the barley variety ‘Abava’, the winter wheat ‘Fredis’ and the spring wheat ‘Uffo’ are well known, not only in Latvia, but also abroad. The achievements of Stende's scientists have gained great appreciation from practicing farmers and agricultural policy makers.