Bryan Harvey was born November 3, 1937 in Wales and came to Canada with his parents in 1948. He graduated from Bedford Road Collegiate in Saskatoon and went on to obtain degrees, BSA and MSc. at the University of Saskatchewan and PhD at the University of California, Davis.
As a graduate student he developed the “half speed approach” for the determination of fatty acid content in rapeseed, an important technique that has been used by canola breeders ever since. He also determined the inheritance of erucic acid content, the first step in the development of canola. Bryan began his career as an assistant professor at the University of Guelph and started his work on barley there.
Returning to the University of Saskatchewan in 1966, he began breeding two-row malting barley. This despite the active discouragement by the domestic industry that then used only six-row barley for brewing. Using a variety of germplasm sources, Bryan was able to greatly improve both field performance and quality of two-row varieties. With his research partner, Brian Rossnagel, they have produced more than 50 varieties of barley, including Harrington.
Harrington, with its higher yield, stronger straw and earlier maturity quickly set the standard for two-row malting and brewing quality. It could be malted directly from the combine, eliminating the need to store barley for three to five months to reduce dormancy. Its high enzyme level allowed brewers to reduce costs while producing a quality product. Harrington became the dominant variety in Canada and held this place for 20 years. It is now being replaced by its descendants.
Bryan also worked on six-row barley and developed CDC Sisler, which sets the Canadian standard. In all facets of his career, Bryan Harvey has demonstrated ability to get to the nub of a problem and pose workable solutions.
From 1994-97 he was Head of the Horticulture Science Department, paving the way for its merger into the Plant Sciences Department in 2000.
In the fall of 2005 Bryan was honored at Okayama, Japan, at a special conference on his work. Using Harrington barley, the Asahi brewing company so impressed the Japanese it moved from a distant third to first place in sales on the Japanese market.
Bryan has been in demand as a speaker at barley producer, processor and marketing levels. He has hosted foreign visitors in Saskatoon and has participated in marketing missions to Asia and Latin America.
He is a Fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada and an honorary life member of both the Saskatchewan and Canadian Seed Growers Associations. His work was recognized by the Canadian Seed Trade Association and the Master Brewers Association with an Outstanding Contribution to Industry Award. In 2005 he received the Saskatchewan Order of Merit.