Inducted: November 22, 2022
Dr. Ron Pitblado researched vegetable pest management and taught thousands of students at the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus sharing his excitement for the development of insect and disease strategies for horticultural crops. He developed Beetcast to assist sugar beet production, TomCast for tomato production and helped develop the Ontario Weather Network. He had an unstoppable passion for investigating new possibilities for Ontario's fruit and vegetable industry.
Dr. Ronald E. Pitblado was born on September 26th, 1946 in St. Catherines, son of Jack and Mabel (Foster) Pitblado.
Ron was a graduate of the University of Guelph, 1970 B.Sc. 1972 Masters 1983, Ph.D.
He met Diane Cass while he was playing basketball in high school, and they were married on June 6th, 1970. Ron and Diane had two children – Dave Pitblado (Leia Patzernuk) of Burlington, and (late) Doug Pitblado (Kathy Kovacs-Pitblado) of Chatham. They have two Grandchildren – Georgia and James, Doug and Kathy's children. Diane said that Ron had certainly accomplished so much in his career, and despite all of his work, he always had time to coach their boys' baseball team and she's quite sure that she and Ron never missed their son's hockey games or their basketball games.
Dr. Pitblado retired in 2007 and died on November 11th, 2009 in Chatham.
Dr. Pitblado was a long-time professor, researcher, and administrator of the University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus.
In 1973, Dr. Clay Switzer, former Dean of the Ontario Agricultural College in Ridgetown, recommended Dr. Pitblado for a position at the Ridgetown Campus. Dr. Pitblado began his career as a vegetable pest management lecturer and researcher. His excitement for the development of insect and disease strategies for horticultural crops eventually led him to teach thousands of students and to travel the globe investigating opportunities and sharing his knowledge.
Ron considered his greatest achievement to be the opportunity to provide agricultural producers and agriculture diploma students with meaningful straight answers to their farming questions. He found it very rewarding to first meet students in the classroom and later, to work with them as Ontario producers.
Ron never used prepared notes in the classroom, but shared his experience teaching countless diploma courses, always hoping that students would share his interest in seeking new ideas.
Some of Dr. Pitblado's research achievements included the development of TOM-CAST, a weather-time pesticide spray program used throughout the world in tomato production.
He helped develop the Ontario Weather Network (OWN), a project to assist growers with the timely application of irrigation and pest management products in several crops, especially for seed corn and processing vegetable growers.
During his research career, his special interest was fungal and bacterial diseases of tomatoes, Cercospora leaf spot and Rhizoctonia crown rot in sugar beets, cabbage and pepper insects and diseases, sweet corn rust, European corn borer, and potato insects. His research addressed the pest management research, teaching and extension concerns of the processing vegetable and sugar beet industries, particularly in the areas of plant pathology and entomology. He also developed pest control strategies for greenhouse vegetable plug plants.
Some other of Dr. Pitblado's research achievements include – (i) the Development of Beetcast, a model for Ceropora Leaf spot in sugar beets; (ii) - Minor and full crop registration approvals; (iii) -Identification of the principles for controlling bacterial disease in field tomatoes; and (iv) -Identification of plant disease resistance such as the discovery and naming of the gene Pto for the control of bacterial speck in tomatoes.
In addition to his research, Dr. Pitblado taught Agriculture and Horticulture Diploma students, lectured to degree students at the University of Western Ontario and the University of Guelph, gave extension presentations in mushroom production and turf management, supervised graduate students and spoke worldwide on mushroom production and pest management issues.
Dr. Pitblado held several leadership positions including horticulture section head, associate director of academics and acting campus director while at the Ridgetown Campus. He worked tirelessly to help colleagues with their teaching methods and addressed opportunities for enhanced learning.
Ron worked diligently with passion and strived to make a difference in everything he did.
When asked what the greatest gift he ever received was, he quickly replied, "That's easy – the gift of wonder."
Dr. Art Schaafsma, who was a colleague and campus director, said that Ron's distinguished 34-year career with Ridgetown Campus is unparalleled. He pointed out that Ron's unstoppable passion to investigate new possibilities for agriculture, particularly of Ontario's fruit and vegetable industry, defined his extensive teaching, research, and extension career.