THE GRAINS Research and Development Corporation has praised the contribution to the grains industry made by Narrabri-based wheat breeder Frank Ellison, who died suddenly in September.
GRDC managing director John Lovett said Dr Ellison had released a range of valuable wheat varieties during his long career at the University of Sydney's Plant Breeding Institute at Narrabri, NSW.
In recent years Dr Ellison had embraced moves to restructure Australia's wheat-breeding programs. He was part of the emerging SunPrime Seeds joint venture between the University, GrainCorp and the GRDC.
"Dr Ellison will be remembered best for his role in the breeding of more than 20 highquality wheat varieties, the first of them, Sunkota, being released by Narrabri PBI in 1979," Professor Lovett said.
"As he moved on to become a senior plant breeder and deputy director of the Institute, he had a steadily expanding role in the wheat-breeding program there, leading to notable varietal releases like Sunco, Sunbri, Sunstate, Suneca and Sunvale.
"But successful wheat breeding involves a lot more than just working with plants. It means extensive interaction with all sectors of the industry, including other areas of allied scientific research that impact directly on the breeding process - processing quality and disease resistances, for instance.
"Dr Ellison worked closely - and developed warm relationships - with growers, domestic and international end users of Australian wheat.
"He was also active in the committees that drive the process to turn promising breeding lines into commercial cultivars accepted by growers.
"He was a member of the national Standing Advisory Committee on Wheat and of the NSW State Wheat Improvement Committee for 20 years. He was a member of the Wheat Breeding Society from its inception in 1984 and its president in 1989 and 1990."
Frank Ellison is survived by wife Anne and sons Michael and Shaun.