Dr. Jim Orf was recognized with the Achievement in Crop Improvement Award at the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association (MCIA) Annual Meeting last January. Orf is a Soybean Breeder at the University of Minnesota and has been funded by the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council (MSR&PC) for various research projects.
The Achievement in Crop Improvement Award is MCIA’s highest award and presented each year to recognize outstanding service in the seed industry, as well as excellent leadership within agriculture and the community. Orf’s past experiences and dedication led him to receiving this award.
Orf came to Minnesota in 1981 and was committed to teaching, research and developing soybean varieties. During his tenure, he released nearly 100 soybean varieties including Sturdy, Lambert and MN1701CN as well as many food grade varieties.
Orf was inspired to pursue a career in plant breeding after volunteering for two years in the Peace Corps. His work in Kenya made him mindful of the need for more protein in developing countries. After returning from the Peace Corps and earning his Masters and Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, he accepted a position at the University of Minnesota working in soybean breeding and genetics, where he focused on improving protein levels in soybeans.
The use of biotech soybeans was one reason Orf focused on soybeans with special use traits. His food grade varieties are widely grown in Minnesota and exported to markets around the world for use in natto, tofu, soymilk and other food products.
Orf will retire May 2015 from his teaching position at the University of Minnesota.