Glenn, Dr. Francis
Inducted: November 18, 2008
Dr. Francis Glenn is a visionary in breeding corn who has changed the agricultural industry in ways that have benefited farmers, not only in Canada and the United States, but around the world.
He was recognized two years ago by “Germination Magazine” with the Genius Award, an acknowledgement of his impressive talents and accomplishments. He is an ardent environmentalist.
In less than 30 years, his company has established an enviable reputation in the seed genetics trade, with the promising prospect of future innovations, and future discoveries to improve agriculture.
At the same time, friends and associates see him as a man with a lot of common sense, “very interesting, very inquisitive. He asks questions, because he wants answers.” In addition, “he’s a friend.”
Dr. Glenn was born in Kingston, the son of Gordon Robert Glenn and the former Nanetta Lucinda Strain. He has one sister, Juanita, who works with him; and a brother, Murray. He received his initiation into farming at the Glenn family’s dairy and mixed farm operation on Amherst Island. Dr. Glenn went to Amherst Public and Continuation Schools, before completing Grade 13 in Odessa.
He went on to Ontario Agriculture College (University of Guelph), where he graduated in Crop Science in 1970. It was there that he met his wife, the former Lucy Foy, and they married a month before graduation.
After a year working as Corn Seed Sales Territory Manager for United Seed Services of Wallaceburg, he returned to Guelph and Crop Science for Graduate studies.
Dr. Glenn first got a Master’s Degree in Crop Physiology; then a PhD in Corn Breeding, all of it accomplished by 1974. With those solid and impressive qualifications, he was employed by Warwick Seed as a Corn Breeder Assistant; and became Director of Corn Research when Warwick was purchased by Pfizer, of Montreal, in 1976.
Just four years later, Dr. Glenn established his own company, Glenn Seed Ltd., with a corn breeding program and parent seed production and sales. In 1985, Dr. Glenn started breeding with the “leafy gene”. This was a departure from the conventional concept of producing corn for grain.
Instead, a different type of corn was produced, one with more leaves above the ear. These extra leaves produced more tonnage, more silage. One of the additional advantages was a soft starch, easier for animals to digest.
Hard work, innovation and perseverance have won him an impressive share of the silage market. Glenn Seed genetics are now used on about 25 per cent of the silage acres in Canada and the U.S.A. His lines are the parents of hybrids sold in France, Hungary, Chile, New Zealand and Australia.
In a highly competitive market, Glenn Seed Ltd. has continued to flourish. He is now researching high protein corn for grain and silage, drought tolerance and improved nitrogen use, as a more economical way of providing nitrogen.
The Glenns have two children, a son, Robert, who works in the business; and a daughter, Margo, of Toronto. Robert is married to the former Billie Leigh Appel.
Dr. Glenn’s most demanding hobby is his work. Outside of that, he is interested in collecting and restoring antique fire engines. This has contributed to his love of parades; and his readiness to respond to a “muster”. He also loves gardening.
An associate described him as “very well read”, with “an amazing mind”. John LeGros, who has known Dr. Glenn for 35 years, has accompanied him on exploratory trips to Chile. He said he is “very dedicated, very capable, and very honest.”
He is a real genius in breeding corn.”
Another said” he is the most interesting and best-informed person I have ever known. You can ask him any question about agriculture, and he knows the right answer.”