Seedsmen Hall of Fame
Honoring Horticulturalists

Elwyn Marshall Meader

Elwyn M. Meader was born March 31, 1910 in Rochester, New Hampshire. He received his B.S. in 1937 from the University of New Hampshire and his M.S. in 1941 from Rutgers University, where his thesis was "A Method for Determining the Relative Cold Hardiness of Dormant Peach Fruit Buds."

From 1938 to 1941 he did research on peaches for the U.S. Department of Agriculture at Rutgers, from 1941 to 1945 on berries at Beltsville, from 1945 to 1946 he was associate professor at the University of Vermont, and from 1946 to 1948 he was horticulturist with the U.S. Army in Seoul, Korea.

After Korea, from 1948 to 1966 he was a professor of horticulture at the University of New Hampshire, his alma mater.  After retiring in 1966, he continued his plant breeding work and released many new varieties into the public domain.  In 1978 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by the University of New Hampshire.

His inherent love of plants combined with a Yankee view of their good and bad points and the desire to improve them, plus contact with Albert F. Yeager, made him a very successful plant breeder.

His creations made great profits for the nurseries, seed companies and producers but he did not believe in patents or royalties.  He said, "I was working for the taxpayer and the results on my work belonged to them."  This is an attitude sorely lacking in these modern times.

As a deeply religious Quaker, his life's path was focused on the desire to improve fruits and vegetables for the world's farmers and gardeners.  During his long career, Professor Meader introduced many new plant varieties.  A generalist in his work, he introduced more than sixty new plant varieties, some of which include:

  • 'Shelleasy' bean & 'Colebrook' watermelon (1951)

  • 'Pando' soybean (1952)

  • 'Scarlet Beauty' bean (1954)

  • 'Royalty' purple podded bean, 'Red Shellout' bean & 'Pinnochio' pepper (1957)

  • 'Baby Butternut' squash & 'Miss Kim' lilac (1958)

  • 'Golden Midget' watermelon, 'Golden Turban' squash, 'Nectarmelon' (1959)

  • 'Sweetnut' squash & 'Market Midget' watermelon (1960)

  • 'Sungold' casaba melon (1961)

  • 'Reliance' peach, 'Fallred' raspberry & 'Goldpack' squash (1964)

  • 'Permagreen' pepper, 'Sweet Chocolate' pepper, 'Applegreen' eggplant & 'Eat-All' squash (1965)

  • 'Colbaga' rutabaga, 'Sweet Grantie' muskmelon & 'Marketmaster' watermelon (1966)

  • 'Tiny Dill' cucumber (1967)

  • 'Fallgold' raspberry & 'Redgold' squash (1968)

  • 'Tricky Jack' pumpkin & 'Fireside' popcorn (1969)

  • 'Meader' blueberry & 'Mericrest' nectarine (1971)

  • 'Meader' persimmon & 'August Red' raspberry (1973)

  • 'Red Chief' rutabaga (1976)

  • 'Cocheco' plum & 'Envy' soybeans (1977)

  • 'Midnight Snack' sweet corn (1978)Dr. Meader in 1984

  • 'Prestige' raspberry (1980)

When asked his feelings about obscure and heirloom varieties, his reply is as timely now as it was in 1984 when he replied.  He said, "I don't like the idea of seedsmen discarding old varieties because of a lack of sales volume.  The loss of genetic diversity isn't healthy.  After all, we're indebted to our ancestors, for the heirloom varieties we have, so I encourage individuals to carry on, growing their own seeds."

Dr. Meader passed away on July 19, 1996.

Informational Sources:

  1. "A Plant Pioneer," Vic Sussman, Organic Gardening Magazine, September 1984

  2. "The Strawberry: History, Breeding and Physiology," G. M. Darrow.

  3. Memories about Elwyn M. Meader

  4. Meader Family Genealogy

  5. Fedco Seeds honoring plant breeder Elwyn Meader

  6. "A History of the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station, 1887-1987," Station Bulletin 529, December 1990


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