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KWS in Wohlde: Insights on 140 Years

In 2021, the largest company in the KWS Cereals Business Unit celebrated three anniversaries

KWS LOCHOW GMBH's core breeding activities date back 140 years, its foundation 95 years, and its registered headquarter is in Bergen near Celle since 75 years. To celebrate these anniversaries, the company has opened its historical archives and offers insights into the "roots" of its plant breeding activities. For this, former managing director Dr. Reinhard von Broock sighted, sorted and catalogued around 3,000 photographs, most of them dating from after World War II to the mid/late 1950s. They not only document the work in seed breeding and agriculture at that time, but also landscapes, animals, staff and machines, and so provide authentic impressions of the origins of today's high-performance portfolio of KWS Cereals.

75 years ago

registered at
Bergen District Court

95 years ago

the F. von Lochow-Petkus GmbH was founded in Brandenburg

140 years ago

"Rye King" F. von Lochow III started with systematic plant breeding

Approximately 3000 negatives and slides

The material comes from the company's original headquarters in Petkus (1926-1945), from the first Bergen site in Hasselhorst (1945-1980), and from the breeding station in Klausheide near Nordhorn: negatives and slides, large glass plates and roll films through to 35mm recordings. Many of them in parchment paper envelopes, others still in their original film canisters.

Plant breeding at KWS writes history

© Roman Thomas

© Roman Thomas

Mechanization at the breeding nursery

In the first years after WW2, there was hardly any equipment for seed cultivation to buy. In contrast to labeling stamps that could be used almost in any industry, the inventive spirit of the Lochow technicians was required for many small technical helpers to make tedious manual work easier or to process small quantities.

Landscapes and Animals

In 1945 and the years that followed, food was scarce. Anyone who wanted to employ staff had to grant at least part of their wages as a so-called “Deputat" (payment in kind). Animals were kept in Hasselhorst and Hörsten to provide the staff with eggs, milk and meat. Until the 1990s, the employees of the Klausheide breeding station had a right to some hundred kilograms of wheat a year, which later was paid out in cash for a long time and finally converted into wages/salary. Several free "laundry days", granted in addition to vacation, were also a relic from this time.

© Roman Thomas

© Roman Thomas

Demonstration trials

In the early years of the company, Ferdinand III had already compared varieties and tried fertilizers. Glass plate slides with test results are the oldest evidence from this period. We selected these recordings from demonstration trials from the 1950s, which show unknown people, some of whom often served as "models".

People & Plant Breeding

It has always been and still is the people who advance developments and find solutions - this is no different in a company. Each and every employee has contributed their part to the fact that we are exactly where we stand today. It is a pity not all these people can be shown in pictures, but to all of them – and all of you! – thanks for the diverse contributions in the service of the company.

Context to the exhibition

© Roman Thomas

© Roman Thomas

From History to Present

For today's staff, the exhibition not only offers insights into the work in agriculture and plant breeding in the old days - many describe the view straight at the "roots" of the company as particularly exciting.


  • 1881 Beginning of rye breeding by Ferdinand von Lochow III. in Petkus
  • 1926 Foundation of the company F. von Lochow-Petkus GmbH
  • 1945 New start in Hasselhorst, Bergen
  • 1946 The company re-registered at the then district court in Bergen
  • 1968 Acquisition of the majority shares of the company by KWS SAAT AG and takeover of the Heine-Peragis grain breeding
  • 1991 Repurchase of the former company headquarters in Petkus
  • 2014 From February 1, sole presence under the KWS umbrella brand; from May, KWS LOCHOW GMBH and its subsidiaries in the U.K., France, Poland and the U.S. will be wholly owned by the KWS Group.
  • Today KWS is globally active

KWS cereals breeding station and breeding garden in Wohlde

KWS cereals breeding station and breeding garden in Wohlde

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Bettina Alex
Bettina Alex
Public Affairs & Arts
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