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R. C. Frohberg

(the following information is taken from Dr. Frohberg's nomination form)

Contributions made to North Dakota’s agricultural industry by
Dr. Richard C. Frohberg

Richard C. Frohberg

Dr. Richard C. Frohberg is only the third public wheat breeder in the history of North Dakota. During his tenure as breeder, he developed or was involved in the development of 27 spring wheat varieties. His level of success is matched by very few plant breeders in the U.S. or in the world. In an average year, during his professional career, eight to nine million acres of North Dakota farmland, generating millions of dollars of income (on the average about 40% of the state's agricultural income) were planted to spring wheat. Throughout most of Dr. Frohberg’s career at NDSU, 80-90% of those acres were planted with varieties released from his program. The release of ‘Alsen,’ the first scab-resistant, high quality hard red spring wheat, demonstrates his ability and foresight. The original research which led to the variety Alsen was initiated in 1987, six years before 1993, the first year of the scab endemic which caused hardship to North Dakota. Alsen which is now the leading HRSW variety in the state has been estimated to generate $100 million annually, based on increased yield due of its resistance to the disease. This estimate does not include the increased value received by producers, because of increased grain quality.



  • BS, 1958, Kansas State University
  • MS, 1963, Iowa State University
  • PhD, 1964, Iowa State University
  • U.S. Army



  • January 1966 - March 2002: hard red spring wheat breeder, North Dakota State University
  • September 1964 - December 1965: wheat geneticist, North Dakota State University
  • June 1960 - August 1964: oat project graduate assistant , Iowa State University


Professional organizations, career-related activities, civic and club activities

  • National Wheat Improvement Committee
  • North Dakota Karnal Bunt Taskforce
  • Regional Wheat Scab Organizing Committee


Honors and Awards

  • 1987: Outstanding Agriculturalist Award, presented by NDSU Alpha Zeta Fraternity
  • 1993: Distinguished Service Award, presented by ND Crop Improvement Association
  • 1993: North Dakota State University Faculty Economic Development Award
  • 1995: Excellence in Research, Senior Faculty - College of Agriculture
  • 1999: Honorary Kernel, presented by the North Dakota Grain Growers
  • 2000: Fred L. Waldron Award, NDSU Research Foundation (awarded annually to an outstanding researcher at NDSU)
  • 2001: Agriculture Award, Greater North Dakota Association


Achievements attained with nominee’s profession and employment

Cultivars released:

  • Justin (1963)*
  • Fortuna (1966)*
  • Waldron (1966)*
  • Olaf (1972)
  • Eller (1974)
  • Tioga (1974)
  • Butte (1977)
  • Coteau (1978)
  • Len (1979)
  • Alex (1981)
  • Stoa (1984)
  • Butte 86 (1986)
  • Cutlass (1986)
  • Amidon (1988)
  • Grandin (1989)
  • Gus (1989)
  • Kulm (1994)
  • Ernest (1995)
  • Trenton (1995)
  • Gulpro (1995)
  • Keene (1996)
  • Argent (1998-Hard White Spring Wheat)
  • Parshall (1999)
  • Reeder (1999)
  • Alsen (2000)

*with Dr. G. Smith

Dr. Frohberg was been actively involved in teaching plant breeding graduate students throughout his professional career, instilling in students the same interest, love, and dedication to plant breeding that he possesses. His evaluations by students have always been excellent. Teaching is not only practiced in the classroom, and for the young graduate student plant breeder, the learning experience in the field with a highly skilled professional such as Dr. Frohberg is valuable to the success of their careers. Numerous MS, PhD, and postdoctoral scientists have benefitted from their training by Dr. Frohberg. One of Dr. Frohberg’s former students, Dr. Phil Bruckner is a very successful winter wheat breeder for Montana State University while Dr. Sufi Ahmed, also a student of Dr. Frohberg’s, is the former national wheat breeder for Bangladesh. Dr. Ian Edwards, the former director of international research for Pioneer International, and the recipient of the NDSU Development Foundation’s 2000 Outstanding Achievement Award, is a former student of Dr. Frohberg. At the awards banquet, he publicly thanked Dr. Frohberg for the inspiration and guidance he had provided that led to his highly successful career. Three of his former graduate students are breeders for U.S. seed companies, while others work at the Williston or Minot Research Extension Center. Still others serve as plant breeders around the world.


Brief family history

The stem rust epidemic of the 1950's devastated his father’s crop, inspiring Dr. Frohberg to become a plant breeder. After graduating from high school, his first job was as an extra gang (gandy) for the Santa Fe Railroad. This job allowed him to earn money to attend college.

Dr. Frohberg and his wife Norma are the parents of three children. Their son, Eric, is a graduate of NDSU and is a civil engineer for Burlington Northern Santa Fe. Norma, a graduate of UND is a physician in Iowa while Colleen, also a UND graduate, is a physical therapist in Bismarck.


Additional remarks from nominator

Dr. Frohberg dedicated his life to NDSU and North Dakota producers. As chair of the department of Plant Sciences I appreciated his value as a role model especially for the younger faculty. Dr. Ken Grafton, a former plant breeder in Plant Sciences and the director of the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station said of Dr. Frohberg, “ I don’t feel worthy to even be in the same field with him”. Dr. Frohberg is very modest and would be the first to say that he was not a role model, just a plant breeder doing his job searching for that one plant among his many 1000's of crosses that has the potential to become another success in a series of new varieties for the benefit of North Dakota and regional spring wheat producers.

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