A lifelong wheat researcher, Dr. Ron DePauw has truly changed the course of Canadian agriculture with his contributions to plant genetics and the unparalleled impact on Canadian wheat production.
Throughout his 41-year career with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ron has challenged conventional wisdom and looked for unexpected solutions. His life’s work has earned him a “billion dollar man” title – referring to the increased revenue for western Canadian farmers growing the grain varieties he developed. He is a respected leader and valued mentor in the Canadian wheat breeding landscape.
Ron’s contributions to Canadian wheat production began when he developed AC Barrie – a Canada West Red Spring (CWRS) wheat variety that marked a new era of improving yield and protein in the same variety. The marketplace responded and AC Barrie was the most widely grown CWRS variety between 1998 and 2005. At its peak, AC Barrie represented nearly 48% of the total CWRS wheat market and was planted on more than 8 million acres in one year alone. New wheat cultivars continue to be measured against the standards set by Ron with AC Barrie.
The extensive list of wheat varieties developed or co-developed by Ron continue to occupy more than 50% of the western Canadian wheat acres, including AC Lillian – the first solid stem CWRS variety that was the most widely grown variety from 2007 to 2010.
Ron never lost sight of delivering value to farmers and consumers. He played a key role in developing new classes of wheat – combining traits for farmers and consumers – including Canada Prairie Spring Red, Canada Prairie Spring White and Canada General Purpose.
Ron received tremendous recognition for his work including the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, Fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada, Order of Canada, a lifetime achievement award from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, and the Canadian Seed Trade’s Plant Breeding and Genetics award.
Understanding the importance of mentoring the next generation, Ron always found time to guide young scientists through the early stages of their careers.
In tangible terms, Ron’s work has given Canadian farmers better yields, enhanced disease resistance, better insect resistance and higher returns…with better quality, higher protein wheat for consumers.