Dry beans, such as pinto, navy and kidney beans are big business in Canada and around the world. Growing these beans more efficiently and sustainably is the goal of a new gift from the Ontario Bean Growers (OBG) to the University of Guelph’s Ontario Agricultural College (OAC)

Including these gifts from OBG and an anonymous donor, a total of $2 million will help support the OBG Assistant Professorship in Weed Sciences faculty position at U of G’s Ridgetown Campus.

Additionally, the U of G has announced the renewal of the Dry Bean Agronomy and Pest Management faculty position at Ridgetown Campus. Collectively, these faculty hires ensure that U of G continues to be among the world’s best in dry bean agronomy and weed management research. 

The new OBG Professorship in Weed Management and the Professorship in Dry Bean Agronomy and Pest Management fill the vacancies left by Dr. Peter Sikkema, who recently retired, and OAC’s Chris Gillard, who will retire later in 2024.

“Peter and Chris have had an immense impact on the Ontario bean industry for years,” says Dr. Rene Van Acker, interim vice president (research) at U of G. “This renewal of these professorships will ensure their legacy continues and that U of G remains at the forefront of industry innovation.”

The hired faculty will continue conducting research at the Ontario Crops Research Centre sites in Huron and Ridgetown.

Annually, Ontario’s dry bean growers produce close to 100,000 acres of crops, with up to 90 percent of the crop exported to international markets.

“Ridgetown Campus has been pivotal to Ontario agriculture for 100 years,” says Brett Shepherd, director of Ridgetown Campus. “We are incredibly grateful to OBG and the private donor for their tremendous support. These gifts will allow us to recruit leading experts who will serve the needs of industry for many years to come.”

The announcement was made in partnership with U of G on Feb. 20 during OBG’s Annual General Meeting in Stratford, Ont.

The Ontario Crops Research Centre is owned by the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario and managed by U of G through the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance, a collaboration between the Government of Ontario and U of G.


Brett Shepherd
Director, Ridgetown Campus