Vernalization is the low temperature treatment given to water soaked seeds, slightly germinated seeds or seedlings to hasten the time of flowering of plants that will develop from them. Chouard (1960) has defined vernalization as the “acquisition or acceleration of the ability to flower by a Chilling treatment”.
The term was first formulated by T.D. Lysenko (1928) as ‘jarovization’. It is based on Latin and an English equivalent is ‘springization’. The implication is not that genetics of the variety is changed to the summer or spring form but only that the variety is made to act like the summer or spring form in response to an artificial cold treatment.
In colder countries like that of Europe there are cereals (wheat, rye, oat) of two physiological kinds viz; Winter cereals and Spring cereals. The winter varieties are sown in September or October. They come out about 6″ from the ground and then remain dormant throughout the winter months. During spring they again burst forth into activity. The spring varieties of wheat are sown after the winter and they flower and fruit the same year. On the other hand when winter wheats are sown in spring the conditions are unfavorable for the completion of certain stages of their development, which are thus inhibited and the plants appear to remain for an indefinite period at the stage of tillering i.e., their growth continues but their development is arrested. By exposing slightly germinated seeds to low temperature (e.g., 3°C), for some period, it is possible to shift the date of sowing of winter variety so as to make it behave like the spring variety without greatly altering the harvesting time.