University Archives & Special Collections, A-2059. “Washing Soil from the Roots of a Crested Wheat Plant.” 2 Sept. 1935. (Patrick Hayes)

Pavlychenko — Crested Wheat

On the fourth floor of the Agriculture Building, to the left as you get off the elevator, is an example of the plant research of Dr. Thomas Karp Pavlychenko. In a framed panel, there is a complete specimen of a crested wheat plant.

The enormous root system of the three-year-old Mr. Fairway variety of crested wheat, which “resists drought, controls weeds and discounts soil drifting," was studied at the University of Saskatchewan.  

In the above photograph, a plant has been uprooted and is being washed. Dr. Pavlychenko developed the technique of washing the soil from the roots without injuring them.

More than just a gifted plant researcher, he was also a poet, linguist and leading figure in the Canadian Ukrainian community.

Pavlychenko was born in Ukraine in 1892, and studied at the Pedagogical Institute, the College of Agriculture Kamenetz-Podolsky, and the University of Prague, Czechoslovakia, before he came to Canada in 1927.

By 1932 he received both his B.S.A. and M.Sc. in Agriculture from the U of S. He continued his post-graduate education at the University of Nebraska, receiving his PhD in 1940.

From 1930-1937 he worked as a weed research assistant for the National Research Council, at its experimental nursery at the U of S. In 1938 Pavlychenko was named head of the Department of Plant Ecology at the university and served in that position for 10 years. 

He was also among the first professors of Ukrainian descent in Canada, and the courses he gave in Ukrainian  helped establish the Department of Slavic Studies.

Pavlychenko left in 1948 to accept a research position with the American Chemical Paint Company.  He died on Aug. 6, 1958, at age 66. 

His papers are in the University Archives and contain material related to his research, including material on soil structure analysis, soils and roots, chemical herbicides and weed control.  

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