Inducted: November 19, 2019
Dr. Norman Bradner will always be recognized within the Canadian Seed Industry by his peers and locally within Chatham-Kent seed soybean growers and commercial producers, as the "father of private soybean breeding in Canada".
Norman was born on October 27th, 1928 in Westminster, B.C. to Helen and Francis Bradner. He married Betty and they had three children – Ron Bradner, Christine (Smith) and Pamela (Ohnemus). He later married Anne in Indiana who brought three children to the marriage - David Foltz (deceased), Polly Jeffries and Becky Hall.
Dr. Bradner graduated from the University of British Columbia (undergraduate degree) in the early 1950s. Then, he attended Oregon State University and graduated with a Graduate Degree and his PHD in 1962.
In 1962–1967, he was named Forage Crop Breeder, Ag Canada, Morden Research Station in Morden MB; in 1967-1980, he was named Soybean Breeder, in Teweles, Wisconsin; in 1980-1982, he was named Soybean Breeder in Asgrow, Terre Haute, IN, and in 1982-1993, he was named Soybean Breeder of King Agro Inc. (PRIDE Seeds) in Chatham, Ontario.
As the soybean breeder for King Agro (PRIDE Seeds) headquartered in Chatham-Kent, Dr. Bradner performed genetic selections locally in his soybean breeding nurseries. His efforts were instrumental in enabling soybean production to grow beyond the late season maturities of the Chatham area.
A number of specific food grade export soybean varieties specifically for Tofu and Natto were grown locally and shipped from King Agro’s facility in Pain Court. In 1986, Dr. Bradner released the first of three Natto-type varieties in K86 followed by TK89 for the Tofu market in 1990.
Today, many soybean growers locally and throughout Canada realize attractive contract premiums growing various varieties of export food grade soybeans. Dr. Bradner was at the forefront of this specific niche market with his eye on excellent food grade characteristics in his breeding efforts to meet and develop this growing market.
In 2008, Dr. Bradner received the Canadian Seed Trade Association (CSTA) Plant Breeding Award. He was recognized for the following achievements:
His role in the development of the soybean industry in Canada along with other early maturity regions around the world.
Of the 6 first registered private soybean varieties in Canada, 4 were bred by Dr. Bradner.
Of the 72 registered soybean varieties (public and private) in Canada from 1972-1992, Dr. Bradner was responsible for 39%.
Norman was so determined to get a better product says Nick, who is a friend of the family, that he worked and worked even at home so he had no time for outside interests.
His son, Ron said that Norman was shy and enjoyed his life.
Grant Craven said: "I had the privilege to have worked with Norm Bradner during his years at PRIDE Seeds until his retirement. I saw firsthand what he was able to deliver to Canadian Agriculture in his genetic selections but also his contributions locally to Chatham-Kent producers growing the seed production to further supply our customer base with. I saw how much his peers thought of him in the private and public soybean breeding sectors and how he inspired the assistants and summer interns that he spent time with in the hot summer breeding nurseries doing genetic crosses. He was always kind and honest, never boastful of his many accomplishments and most humble always. A true gentleman, ….. Dr. Norm Bradner.
Paul Roy says …"Norm….A major contributor to Private soybean research in Ontario. Other companies followed, and used his material for their new breeding programs. Very few people know this, …but Norm’s varieties resulted in expansion of early soybean production in France. He helped to launch soybean production in Austria. After retirement from King, (he) continued his development and testing of soybeans for another Canadian soybean exporter. Always ready for new challenges. He had a way to motivate his staff through the years. Soft spoken, but the work was done! His work with early soybean research opened the door to many of the new regions of Canada…Eastern Ontario, Quebec. It was a good day when Norm decided to move back to Canada and join King!!!"
Zeb Talach explains how Dr. Bradner came to work in Chatham-Kent -- "Back in early 1970s, Pfizer like a number of other Drug and/or Chemical companies, purchased seed companies in the US. … Most of these companies knew nothing of the seed business or understood the people that worked and ran these businesses. At the time, I was working for Pfizer Canada in animal health and ag chemical division…One of the companies Pfizer purchased was a soybean seed company called Clements. They had basic soy research headed by Dr. Bradner. I had the pleasure to sit in on a number of his seminars and to sit with him privately and began learning about the seed business and research that was involved. Norm, for the people that know him, is a very likeable individual. Very soft spoken and a great teacher….I eventually left Pfizer and so did Norm, but I found a new love, the seed business. In, I believe it was 1982 while I was working for King Grain in their seed division, we lost our director of soybean research. Soybean breeders were very rare back in those days. … I never forgot Dr. Bradner and also remembered the fact he was a Canadian and maybe he wanted to come home. He did come back to Canada and headed up our soybean research program. He developed break through varieties like KG 60, KG 40, and KG 30 to mention a few. For example KG 60 was a variety that out yielded the best of varieties in that maturity group by 18%. Kind of unheard of in soy research. Most, if not all soy breeders, especially in Canada began using the germplasm in Norm’s varieties to advance their own research programs and varieties. We will never know just how much soybean yields increased in Canada because of Dr. Bradner’s brilliance. I have been in the seed business for over 40 years. I would say that Norm is one of a very few researchers that has had a huge impact in the science of seed breeding."