By: Trevor Terfloth
A long-time Blenheim corn breeder has received national recognition for his contributions to the industry.
Dr. Francis Glenn was recently awarded the 2015 Canadian Plant Breeding and Genetics Award, which is co‐sponsored by the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) and Germination magazine.
It is presented annually to a public or private-sector researcher who has fostered advancements in Canadian plant agriculture through research in plant breeding and genetics.
“Naturally I’m very pleased and very honoured to have received it,” Glenn told The Daily News on Sunday.
Glenn, president of Glenn Seed Ltd., is the developer of the GL62 corn inbred line. The line crosses with many unrelated lines, producing hybrids that are consistently taller and with higher yields.
They also provide increased fibre digestibility, higher sugar content, more digestible starch and a slower rate of maturity, which allows for a longer window for silage harvest.
Glenn has developed five inbred lines for production since 1992. He has developed all leafy hybrids in wide use by seed companies in all maturity zones of Canada, the U.S., New Zealand, Chile, France, Italy and Hungary.
“We’ll always need new and improved varieties for changing environments in relation to the way we do production and changing environments in the way that seasons can change,” he said.
Glenn received the honour at the 92nd-annual meeting of the CSTA in Windsor.
Dave Baute, president of Maizex Seeds Inc., was the nominator for the award.
“For 35 years, Dr. Francis Glenn has pursued a unique approach to breeding high-yielding, silage specific corn hybrids,” Baute said in a media release.
“His is the only corn program in North America devoted to the improvement of digestibility of both fibre and grain parts of the corn plant.”
Glenn, who was inducted into the Kent Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2008, also offers many of his new lines with herbicide-resistant and insect-protected traits.
Despite Chatham-Kent’s rich agricultural heritage, he said there is sometimes a lack of public awareness as to what the industry actually involves.
“People need to be more educated in terms of the science of what breeding is and what agriculture does,” he said.
“Even in this rural area, there’s people who are really not connected very much with agriculture and don’t understand what crops are grown around us and what farmers do and what farmers have to do to make a living.”
Also announced at the CSTA annual meeting was an honourary life membership for John Cowan.
Cowan began his career in 1977 with Hyland Seeds in Blenheim and became general manager in 1997.
Under his leadership, Hyland Seeds established itself as a leading developer of corn, soybean, and wheat genetics.
He was one of the creators of CSTA’s external relations work group and contributed for many years. John served for 10 years on the CSTA board of directors and was president in 2005-06.
Until his retirement from Hyland Seeds he continued to actively participate in CSTA committees. After his retirement, he continued to contribute by participating on behalf of the Grain Farmers of Ontario.