Seed World

Plant Breeding and Genetics Award Winner Rob Graf Joins SeedNet

Rob Graf has retired after a long career as one of Canada's top winter wheat breeders.

SeedNet has announced a significant addition to its management team. Rob Graf, a seasoned professional with an illustrious 35-year career in wheat breeding, has joined the ranks of SeedNet’s leadership. This strategic move underlines SeedNet’s commitment to fostering excellence and driving innovation in the seed sector, General Manager Jeff Jackson said in a statement.

Graf brings a wealth of experience from both the private and public domains of wheat breeding. Notably, he was associated with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada from 1999, where he held the esteemed position of a principal research scientist in winter wheat breeding. His pioneering breeding program was dedicated to crafting superior hard red winter wheat varieties that exhibited exceptional traits including high yields, robust agronomics, disease and pest resistance, and improved quality.

In 2019, he won the Canadian Plant Breeding & Genetics Award, sponsored by Germination and Seeds Canada> given to Canada’s top plant breeders. The award is part of the Canadian Plant Breeding Innovation (CPBI) Awards.

He was instrumental in the development and co-development of an impressive portfolio of 14 winter wheat varieties since 2001. His expertise extended to the facilitation of several spring wheat varieties characterized by diverse quality profiles. Graf’s influence extended beyond the laboratory as well. He devoted 13 years to leadership roles within the Prairie Grain Development Committee executive, serving as chair for five years. Additionally, his chairmanship of the Alberta Cereal RVT Committee (ARVAC) spanned 11 years, reflecting his dedication to enhancing industry standards.

He has been a trusted advisor to the Board of the Alberta / British Columbia Seed Growers since 2008. Furthermore, his involvement with the Plant Breeders Committee of the Canadian Seed Growers Association and his membership in the CFIA-PBR Advisory Committee underscore his commitment to shaping and influencing the industry’s trajectory.

“Back when I bred spring wheat, I very much regarded winter wheat as a niche crop that was mostly grown in southern Alberta. As a spring wheat breeder, originally when I was asked to collaborate and put in a winter wheat trial all those years ago, it was just kind of a nuisance,” he told Germination last year.

“I had to have standing stubble and plan for it, which I didn ‘t have to do with spring wheat. But once I started working on winter wheat, it didn ‘t take very long to understand all the benefits of the crop, and the tremendous breeding potential for Western Canada.”

As SeedNet continues to chart the course for the seed industry’s success, the addition of Dr. Rob Graf brings a fresh dimension of experience, knowledge, and leadership,” Jackson added in his statement.

“His journey of dedication and achievement mirrors SeedNet’s mission to push boundaries, create synergies, and contribute to the industry’s growth. The seed industry can anticipate a future brimming with possibilities as Dr. Graf collaborates with SeedNet to drive the sector’s evolution and success.”