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USask wheat breeder earns province’s highest honour

August 16, 2023  By Top Crop Manager

Dr. Pierre Hucl (PhD) has been named a 2023 Saskatchewan Order of Merit recipient in recognition of his remarkable contributions to crop development and research.

A professor and plant breeder in the Department of Plant Sciences and Crop Development Centre (CDC) in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources (AgBio) at the University of Saskatchewan (USask), Hucl’s expertise in bread wheat, specialty wheats, and canaryseed breeding and genetics has revolutionized farming practices and enhanced food security across Western Canada.

Hucl’s exceptional career as a world-recognized plant breeder and researcher, combined with his unwavering commitment to mentorship and volunteer service, embodies the essence of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit.


Established in 1985, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit—the province’s highest honour—celebrates excellence and achievement by Saskatchewan citizens. Hucl, along with five other recipients, will be invested with the order at a ceremony in Saskatoon on Sept. 27, 2023.

Throughout his distinguished career, Hucl’s dedication to science and breeding of bread wheat, canaryseed and other crop lines for short-season regions of Western Canada has resulted in the release of more than 40 new crop varieties. These varieties have not only reinforced western Canadian agriculture but also played a pivotal role in the region’s value-added industry, contributing to billions of dollars in farm-gate receipts.

A notable achievement for Hucl—who held the Strategic Research Program Chair in Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) Wheat, Specialty Wheats, and Canaryseed Breeding and Genetics for 33 years—is the development and release of the first hairless canaryseed variety. This groundbreaking innovation not only established Saskatchewan as a global leader in producing and exporting canaryseed, but also opened doors to a growing market due to the seed’s health benefits. The hairless canaryseed varieties developed by Hucl made harvesting and processing easier by eliminating the tiny, sharp spikes from the hull, which are a major skin and lung irritant.

Hucl’s impact on food security has been profound, with his wheat varieties demonstrating improved yields, disease resistance, and qualities specifically tailored for the baking industry. His research focuses on breeding wheat varieties that are highly resistant to the wheat disease Fusarium Head Blight (FHB), which poses a threat to the worldwide wheat market due to the harmful mycotoxin found in infected wheat kernels. By developing FHB-resistant varieties, Hucl played a role in ensuring the safety and quality of wheat products for both domestic and international consumers.

For here for the full story on Hucl.


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