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Agriculture loses breeder, educator and leader

Apr. 5, 2010 -Agriculture in Ontario lost one of its best friends on April 4th, when long-time instructor and plant breeder, Dr. Gary Ablett, died following a battle with cancer.

April 5, 2010  By Top Crop Manager

April 5, 2010 –Dr. Gary Ablett, long-time plant breeder and educator with Ridgetown College, and then the University of Guelph, died Sunday, April 5th after a relatively short battle with cancer. He was 58.

Ablett joined the Farm Crops staff at Ridgetown College in 1979, then stepped into the role as manager of the Farm Crops section in 1990. He then added the title of manager of the agronomy section at the college in 1994.

When Ridgetown College became a campus of the University of Guelph three years later, Ablett was named the college’s director. In 2004, he moved to Guelph to assume the role as acting chair of the Department of Plant Agriculture, only to move back to Ridgetown in 2006 to complete his term as director of the college.


As much as he is remembered for his work as an educator and administrator, Ablett is also well known for his accomplishments in plant breeding, with a hand in developing more than 50 soybean varieties for public and private sector interests. Many of his varieties bore the characteristic suffix "RCAT" (Ridgetown College of Agricultural Technology, an honour that marked the college's feats prior to its affiliation with the University of Guelph).

Ablett was a frequent speaker and presenter at events such as Southwest Diagnostic Days, along with various trade and industry presentations dealing with the advancement of soybeans in Ontario. In 2009, he spoke at the World Soybean Conference, in Beijing, China, and then provided a brief account of some of the goings-on for Top Crop Manager’s October edition (Page 12). His willingness to share that experience was an indication of his quiet leadership and uncommon character.

Most of all, Ablett was a tireless promoter and goodwill ambassador of Ontario agriculture. He was always willing to share his expertise and ideas with students, farmers and industry stakeholders, expressing what he saw as the tremendous potential for Ontario soybeans, and of the exceptional job done by growers, providing quality service and consistent product to its downstream partners, year after year.

Always at the ready with a comment, an insight or a smile, Gary Ablett will be missed by many.

He is survived by his wife Jane, and two sons, Jeff and Greg.


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