Dr. Wilbert Ronald

Wilbert Ronald with Lilium seedlings

A Passion for Lilies - My Goals in Wide Species Crosses

Wilbert Ronald grew up in a mixed farm in Manitoba and followed his brothers to the University of Manitoba where he pursued horticulture, plant science and botany. He started working in plant breeding in 1968 for the Canadian Federal Dept. of Agriculture, Morden Research Station and then completed further studies at the University of Minnesota (Horticulture and Plant Breeding). His interest in lilies grew from 1971-1974, under his PhD advisor Dr. Peter Ascher, who exposed him to wide species lily crossing, overcoming interspecific barriers by studying pollen tube in directional wide crossing and embryo culture as a tool to rescue partially developed embryos. He continued this work when returning to Morden and with Lynn Collicutt, he worked on some of the pioneer Orienpet and Easter Lily (Easterpet) breeding. He was inspired by visiting a number of Black Beauty hybridizer’s gardens including that of LeVern Friemann (1975), Leslie Woodriff (1975) Robert Griesbach (1985) and Edward McRae (1975).

Ronald`s work with lilies followed up by Lynn Collicutt, led to 16 introductions of OT, Easterpet and Asiapet breeding. A number of these (Starburst Sensation, Northern Carillon and Easter Morn) have won the Best in Show at NALS on several occasions. Since starting his own nursery business he has continued his lily interest and has broadened the breeding base with crosses of E. Morn with OTs and of E. Morn with Asiapets. His recent goal is to develop a hybrid with Easterpets, Asiapets and OT germplasm all in a single lily plant.

Numerous NALS awards have come his way including the Slate-MacDaniels and E. H. Wilson Awards and two NALS Hornback Awards for breeding advance as well as several nursery and horticulture awards. He was instrumental in founding the Manitoba Regional Lily Society and has served as its President as well as President of NALS.

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