The Victory Horticultural Portal - A Community for Historical Research

Seedsmen Hall of Fame
Honoring Horticulturalists

Dr. Henry Martin Munger

Dr. Henry Martin Munger of Cornell University stands out as a premier vegetable breeder, classical geneticist, and educator.  He received his B.S. in 1936 and from his 1941 doctoral research came the first fusarium wilt-resistant muskmelon, 'Iroquois'.  This was just the beginning of a very productive fifty five year career.

He introduced more than fifty varieties of cucumbers including whole lines of "Spacemasters", "Poinsetts", "Tablegreens" and "Marketmores".  Nearly all U.S. slicing cucumbers benefit from inheriting disease resistance and improved color directly attributable to Dr. Munger's breeding program.

Additionally, it is estimated that half of all commercial carrots sold in the U.S. and Europe can trace heritage back to a discovery of Dr. Munger.  In 1953 while picking blueberries in Orleans, Massachusetts, he found a wild carrot plant with pink-petaled flowers instead of white.  This plant ended up being a rare male-sterile variety and ultimately the mother stock for hybrid carrot seed production.

In an interview with Biotech Reporter, he lamented the toll that agricultural biotechnology was having on traditional plant breeding by diverting funding and students away from conventional plant breeding.1  He is proof that traditional plant breeding methods work, are productive, and yield economically viable plant varieties.

Dr. Munger passed away on August 25, 2010 in Ithaca, New York.  Click here for his obituary.


Sources:

  1. K. Wrage, "A lost generation of plant researchers," Biotech Reporter 12(7): 1, 4, July 1995.

  2. Obituary of Norma (Gibson) Munger.

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