Harvey Voldeng is this year’s winner of the SeCan Canada Seed of the Year Award.
He worked for both the federal agriculture department and the University of Guelph to develop early-maturing soybeans that extended the growing area from Windsor-Chatham east and north as far as Ottawa.
His first short-season variety, Maple Arrow, was registered in 1976 and a follow-up variety, Maple Glen, became the most popular soybean variety in the province.
The award was presented this week at the Central Experimental Farm in Ottawa and in the building where the research branch has its headquarters.
More than 40,000 tonnes of Maple Glen seed was sold over its first 15 years, enough to plant more than 1.5 million acres.
Soybean production in Canada has increased more than eight-fold since the introduction of the Maple Series in the 1970's. Many of the early-maturing soybean varieties grown in Canada today have the Maple Series as a genetic grandparent.
Voldeng said “we hoped soybeans would become a valuable and established crop in Canada, but never expected them to have the success they have since achieved.
“In addition to the long standing acres in Ontario and Quebec, soybeans are also grown on more than a million acres in Western Canada today and are even established in parts of Prince Edward Island. It's amazing.”
Last year more than 5.56 million Canadian acres grew soybeans. The harvest was worth more than $2.2 billion.
While Dr. Voldeng has retired from AAFC, he still works as an honorary research associate at the department's Ottawa Research and Development Centre, developing new crop varieties. His current research work is on spring wheat for bread.