100 years since the first Maribo seed was sown

MariboHilleshög marks the anniversary with a beet day for Danish beet growers at the headquarters in Denmark on Friday 18 September.

This month it is 100 years since Denmark got its first – and still only – seed business in beets. MariboHilleshög marks the anniversary with a beet day for Danish beet growers on Friday 18 September – first with a field demonstration, then with an event at home at the headquarters in Holeby on Lolland. It is here – first at the former sugar factory inside Holeby and since the 1930s at a new processing station on Højbygårdvej a little outside the city – that the Maribo seeds have been developed and produced.

It was De Danske Sukkerfabrikker (the Danish Sugar Factories), which in 1920 established the company to ensure the supply of beet seeds to the Danish growers and to get a better yield in the sugar beet fields. Since then, there have been several changes of ownership and name, and the customer base has grown to include beet growers spread across the globe, but the product is still called MARIBO seeds.

Headquarters in Holeby
Especially in recent years, a lot has happened. First a divestment from Danisco to Syngenta in 2010 and three years ago acquired by DLF and thus back in Danish hands. At the same time, Maribo Seed was merged with Swedish Hilleshög, which DLF had also taken over from Syngenta, and continued under the name MariboHilleshög – still with Holeby as the headquarters for the total of 320 employees. And in April this year, the company got a new CEO when Hans Christian Ambjerg replaced Niels Mikkelsen, who retired.

Selling seeds in 35 countries
– Today we have a really strong setup, says Hans Christian Ambjerg. In Landskrona in Sweden, we have 85 employees exclusively dedicated to breeding new varieties that are adapted to local conditions. Here in Holeby in Denmark, we have well-functioning laboratories, thorough experimental and processing work and efficient production. In the world we are represented in 35 countries.

– For a company that has 100 percent focus on helping sugar beet growers to optimize their yields, it is ideal now to be part of DLF, a global seed company owned by Danish farmers. In the first years with the new ownership, we have experienced a willingness to invest in the facilities here in Holeby in Denmark, where we have increased the production of beet seeds quite considerably, Hans Christian Ambjerg notes.

The first seed breeding station was at Maribo Sugar Factory, but since the 1930s it has had its home here on Højbygårdvej in Holeby on Lolland, where investments have been made and expanded on several occasions.