Seed World

Bryan Harvey Inducted into Canadian Ag Hall of Fame

From left: Brian Harvey, Janet Weller and Bryan Rossnagel at work in this undated archive photo. Photo courtesy Crop Development Centre

One of the country best-known barley breeders has been named to the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Renowned plant breeder Bryan Harvey developed more than 60 varieties of barley throughout his prolific 50-year research career, notes the organization in a statement.

“At the University of Saskatchewan, his ground-breaking research developed two-row malting barley varieties that would deliver tremendous returns to Canadian agriculture and the malting industry. His most notable variety, Harrington, became the gold standard for two-row malting barley and the dominant variety across the Prairies for more than 20 years. An esteemed academic, Bryan’s commitment to germplasm conservation is evident in his numerous awards and honours including the Order of Canada.”

Harvey lives in Saskatoon, Sask. and was nominated by the Canadian Seed Growers Association.

He also was a primary developer of CDC Copeland, which would come to dominate the brewing world along with AAC Metcalfe. Since the 1990s, CDC Copeland has been grown on over 10 million acres in Western Canada and has produced enough barley to brew 30 bottles of beer for every person on earth.

In 2019, CDC Copeland was selected by members of Germination‘s editorial board to receive the Canadian Plant Breeding Innovation (CPBI) Seed of the Year Award for 2019-2020. Varieties are evaluated on their performance, presence in the value chain, sustainability, marketability, innovation, end use potential, overall impact and contribution to the Canadian agri-food industry.

“I didn’t think it would be so big at first. CDC Copeland came out before the rise of the craft brewing industry,” remembers the 82-year-old Harvey, whose program at the Crop Development Centre developed the variety.

“After creating CDC Harrington, maltsters and brewers wanted a high enzyme profile. I expected Copeland to occupy maybe 25% of the acres, but I was surprised how far it went,” Harvey adds.

In the malting and brewing world, CDC Copeland is now king, rivalled only by AAC Metcalfe. Copeland is prized by both large adjunct brewers as well as smaller craft brewers for its versatility in creating the base for beer of all kinds, from mass-produced pale lagers to all-malt craft beer styles.

At the time of registration, CDC Copeland offered a 12% yield increase over the check Harrington. Also, CDC Copeland was predictably lower in grain protein than AC Metcalfe. The lower grain protein was attractive to many producers since high grain protein was the most common reason that barley was not accepted for malting.