Vitaplant has decades of expertise in the field of growing special crops. Over the past 20 years, around 100 wild plants have been successfully transferred to controlled cultivation.
Selection, propagation, cultivation development and pilot cultivation take place at the main site in Uttwil. Here Vitaplant AG has greenhouses, laboratories and 60,000 m2 of agricultural land at its disposal to carry out research and development work.
Our subsidiaries in Africa are at our disposal for research into plants from other geographical regions and with different climatic requirements.
"If nature does not give us the desired plant, extensive selection and breeding work must be carried out to produce the desired plant."
Dr. Amin Chaanin
Head of R&D Agro
Selection of elite plants
Every individual plant of a genus/species taken from nature has a different spectrum of constituents. Collections of plants/seeds from various geographical regions and the subsequent cultivation of these different accessions lead to the selection of elite plants.
During the cultivation phase, several samples are taken at different points in time and examined for their constituents. Only the genotypes/accessions with the best profile, for example an optimal composition of the desired constituents and the lowest proportion of undesirable substances, are propagated as elite plants.
The selected genotypes can, if desired, be registered at the European Community Plant Variety Office or internationally and thus receive 25 years of plant variety protection.
Examples of selections by Vitaplant including plant variety protection:
Plant breeding is an interesting but also demanding procedure, which often takes many years.
In our team, and also in cooperation with universities and colleges, we try to optimise certain constituents of selected plants through breeding work.
Propagation of elite plants
The propagation of elite plants is carried out vegetatively or generatively both in vitro and in vivo in the greenhouse by means of the entire repertoire of horticultural methods. These include root cutting, cuttings production, stolon propagation or classical seeding.
Growing development and pilot cultivation
The selection and breeding process is followed by test cultivation trials on small plots. Here, we investigate important parameters such as optimal propagation methods; soil requirements; climatic conditions; control of diseases and pests; optimal harvesting dates; yields; and post-harvest treatment such as drying the medicinal plant optimally or removing undesirable components such as the stems.
As a rule, these pilot tests are carried out in parallel at various locations in our international network. This ensures that the subsequent production site meets the specific requirements of the plant.
Importing living plant material into specific countries is often a difficult, bureaucratic and lengthy task. Vitaplant has gained experience in this field over many years. We attach great importance to complying with both international and local guidelines.
Variety protection using Petasites hybridus as an example
In the case of Petasites hybridus, more than 400 different genotypes / plants were collected over several years from a total of 14 countries and tested for constituents, purity and health at the company's headquarters in Uttwil.
An excerpt from the diagram shows the large differences in the active ingredient content of petasin. The subsequent selection of the best genotypes results in enormous cost savings in the production of the extract and a unique selling point on the market.