U of G’s Yukon Gold Named Seed of the Year

November 10, 2011 - News Release

The popular Yukon Gold potato was a winner at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto this year, where it topped entries in the seventh annual Seed of the Year competition (east division).

Yukon Gold was developed by the late Garnet (Gary) Johnston, a renowned world-class potato breeder, while at the University of Guelph. This enhanced yellow potato variety was recognized for its disease resistance and growing performance in North America. Its name reflects its distinctive colour and honours Yukon River “Gold Rush” country.

The first Canadian-bred variety to be marketed with its name on the packaging 30 years ago, Yukon Gold is a household name in many regions of Canada and the United States.

A research scientist with Agriculture Canada, Johnston was seconded to U of G in 1953. He helped introduce a number of registered potato varieties besides Yukon Gold that are used in commercial production.

Johnston, who earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees from OAC, retired from U of G in 1980 and received an honorary degree from the University in 2000.

Among five other division finalists in the Seed of the Year competition, three have U of G ties: EX Rico 23, a navy bean variety developed by plant agriculture professor Peter Pauls, technician Tom Smith and breeder Alireza Navabi; OAC Bayfield, a soybean variety developed in 1993 by researchers led by professors Wallace Beverdorf and Jack Tanner; and Dividend VL Orchard Grass, developed by Stephen Bowley and Donna Hancock.

The Seed of the Year competition recognizes publicly developed Canadian varieties of field crops, forages, fruits, vegetables or herbs important to the agri-food industry as well as accomplishments of public plant breeders. Entries are judged for innovation, industry impact, value chain presence, sustainability and marketability.

The annual competition was an initiative of SeCan Association in Ottawa and the University of Guelph. The first Seed of the Year winner was recognized in 2005.

Rene Van Acker
Associate Dean, External Relations
Ontario Agricultural College
University of Guelph
Phone: 519-824-4120, Ext. 53533
Email: vanacker@uoguelph.ca

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or lhunt@uoguelph.ca, or Shiona Mackenzie, Ext. 56982, or shiona@uoguelph.ca.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1