DEDICATED TO

ROBERT WILLARD HODGSON

and

HOWARD BRETT FROSH

 

both of whom possessed the ability to look far ahead and whose talents in divergent ways were reflected in substantial achievements for the citrus industry.

 

ROBERT WILLARD HODGSON (1893-1966)

  “The direct influence of his teaching can be measured by the enrichment and enhancement of many subtropical fruit industries and the improvement of teaching in agricultural colleges throughout the subtropical regions of the world.” —C. A. Schroeder

      The impact of Robert Willard Hodgson—teacher, administrator, researcher, and consultant—on the citrus industries and other subtropical horticulture of the world still cannot be fully assessed.   For almost fifty years—until his death on May 17, 1966—Dean Hodgson served as an unofficial horticultural ambassador to numerous citrus-growing nations.   Many of Hodgson’s former students, representing twenty-eight countries from six continents, are just now beginning to exert agricultural leadership in their homelands.   The last product of his voluminous research and writings—a monumental work on citrus varieties of the world—was published posthumously in 1967 in Volume I of the new edition of The Citrus Industry.
      Somewhat reserved by nature, Hodgson’s underlying ardor was always evident when he spoke on the agricultural potential of developing nations.   Even the characteristic pipe-tamping ritual that focused the listener’s attention on the pipe while Hodgson found time during the pause to judiciously order his thoughts, was less drawn out when he touched upon this subject.   He possessed the breadth of vision shared by many of the pioneer citrus investigators—men such as Swingle, Webber, Hume, Coit, and Chandler.   Some of his missionary-like proselytyzing for agricultural research and education can probably be traced to the rigid influences of a Methodist upbringing in a clerical family accustomed to changes of parish.
      Robert Willard Hodgson was born on April 3, 1893, in Dallas, Texas, the son of Mark and Olivia Hodgson.   His father, an Englishman, emigrated to America at an early age, entered the ministry, and served in parishes in Texas and New Mexico prior to accepting a post as a supervisor of Methodist church affairs in northern California in 1904.   In 1906, after retiring from the ministry, the elder Hodgson purchased an orange grove of questionable varietal value at Thermolita near Oroville.
      Mark Hodgson had always been a domineering parent, expecting his six children to mirror his views.   His opinions on orange-growing were particularly hard for Robert to accept, conscious as the youth was of his father’s mistaken assessment of the orchard.   The son’s rebellion to parental authority took the form of proving that he had the sounder grasp of agricultural principles.   After much study, Robert persuaded his father to let him topwork the trees of variable character to a single variety.   The boy’s success led to many offers for topworking and propagation from other ranchers, and he was soon helping to manage his father’s orchards as well.
      Upon entering the University of California at Berkeley, Hodgson inevitably registered in the College of Agriculture.   In 1916, he graduated with highest honors in biology and agriculture.   He also became the first agricultural student at the University ever elected to Phi Beta Kappa.   His talent was recognized by Dr. J. E. Coit who recruited Hodgson as his assistant in citriculture and became a major influence on the student’s professional development.
      In 1917, Coit was sent to Los Angeles by the College of Agriculture to found the Agricultural Extension Service there and organize the first chapter of the Farm Bureau in southern California.   Hodgson, who received his M.S. degree that year, joined Coit as his assistant.   Seven years of experience as a farm adviser or “county agent” instilled in Hodgson a lifelong concern for the problems of the farmer, reflected both in the direction of his later research and his approach to education.   During this period, Hodgson carried out pioneering research on the adaptation and tolerance of citrus trees and on problems concerned with productivity.
      In 1924, Hodgson was appointed associate professor of subtropical horticulture at the University of California, Berkeley.   In that same year, the Regents adopted a resolution to transfer the Division of Subtropical Horticulture to the Los Angeles campus.   When Hodgson was named head of the division in 1925, he immediately became involved in the intensive planning that resulted in the actual move to Los Angeles in 1932.   Among his tasks was responsibility for planning and collecting materials for the variety and experimental orchard on the Los Angeles campus, which ultimately became an outstanding facility for research and teaching in the field of subtropical horticulture.
      In 1932, Hodgson was promoted to assistant director of the Los Angeles section of the College of Agriculture.   In 1935, he received the title of professor of subtropical horticulture.   He became assistant dean in 1943, and advanced to the post of dean of the College of Agriculture at Los Angeles in 1952.   He retained this position until retiring as dean emeritus in 1961.   In 1965, Hodgson was awarded the honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of California, Los Angeles, for his outstanding service to the University and his advancement of agricultural science.   In conferring this distinction, Chancellor Franklin D. Murphy of the Los Angeles campus praised Hodgson as “one of the pioneers, who helped build UCLA into a great institution.”
      Hodgson’s research on orchard efficiency analysis and pruning practices and characteristics of nucellar clones of lemons in California drew attention to many problems of the citrus industry, resulting in improved clones and better cultural and handling methods.   His study of exotic citrus varieties in various parts of the world led to numerous introductions of value in breeding, rootstock-scion studies, and other applications.   He also stimulated improvement of the avocado and had an influence on the walnut, date, persimmon, pomegranate, and fig industries of California.
      Because of his abilities in organization and administration and his skill in appraising problems, Hodgson was sought frequently as a consultant in the fields of agricultural research and education.   He was a participant in the United States Technical Assistance Program in Chile in 1957; he was a representative under sponsorship of The Rockefeller Foundation at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in 1959, 1960, 1961, and 1962; he held a Food and Agriculture Organization consultantship in Cyprus during 1960; and in 1965 was a consultant to the Ministry of Agriculture in Libya.   He spent 1951 to 1952 in Egypt as a Fulbright research scholar, and from 1955 to 1959 served as a member of the Administrative Committee of the Inter-American Institute for Agricultural Sciences at Turrialba, Costa Rica.   In 1965, he was a consultant to the Faculty of Agriculture at Khartoum University in the Sudan.
      His technical reports on horticultural missions in Tunisia, Morocco, India, Egypt, Chile, Palestine, Sudan, Libya, and Tripolitania resulted in substantial horticultural improvements in many of these nations.   Among honors bestowed upon him for such services were the Order of Nichan Iftikhar, conferred by the Bey of Tunisia in 1931; the Order of Ouissam Alouite Cherifien presented by the Sultan of Morocco; and the Croix d’Officier du Merite Agricole of the Republic of France.
      On the national and local level in this country, Hodgson was also professionally active in a number of organizations associated with agriculture.   From 1960 to 1965, he served as chairman of the Walnut Control Board.   He was also a member of the California Orange Administrative Board for many years.   He was a recipient of the California Avocado Society Award of Honor in 1940, the Los Angeles County Farm Bureau Annual Award of Merit, and the Wilder Silver Medal Award of the American Pomological Society.   He was elected a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an active member of the New York Academy of Science, and served as president of the Western Section, American Society for Horticultural Science.
      Hodgson’s prolific publications record includes numerous papers on subtropical fruits and their culture and on agricultural problems in general, many of which were translated into foreign languages.   Shortly before his death, he completed an exhaustive monograph on citrus varieties which appears in Volume I of The Citrus Industry.   While this work is destined to become a classic of citrus literature, Hodgson’s greatest legacy lies in the impress of his vigorous mind and ideas on the lives and careers of students and associates who will shape the role of agriculture in the world of tomorrow.

     

HOWARD BRETT FROST

  “Frost’s genius lay in a total immersion in research, a gift for meticulous observation, and a rigorous objectivity sustained through decades of citrus experimentation.   Few colleagues of the early Citrus Experiment Station days grasped the implications of Frost’s solitary and unheralded quest or foresaw the revolutionary impact it would have on today’s citrus industry.” —Walton B. Sinclair

      When Howard Brett Frost began his citrus studies in 1914 on plantings set out beneath the slopes of Mount Rubidoux in Riverside, California, nucellar embryony in citrus had already been studied by Strasburger and Biermann in Europe and the pioneer hybridizing experiments of Webber and Swingle in Florida had provided a rudimentary framework of citrus genetics.   Frost built upon this framework: when he retired in 1948, he left behind a sound structure of knowledge which his colleagues were extending through further basic insights and the development of applications of far-reaching value to citrus horticulture.
      The Frost legend persists at the Citrus Research Center and Agricultural Experiment Station in a multitude of stories—both true and apocryphal—about his complete absorption in the subject at hand.   During an extended field trip one November, Frost is said to have asked: “What day is it? I promised my wife I’d be home for Thanksgiving.”   There are anecdotes relating to the thoroughness of Frost’s field notebooks, still used by a new generation of geneticists.   Riding up the Central Valley with a friend in the 1950’s, Frost suddenly produced a notebook enabling him to compare precisely the traveling time from city to city with a trip made twenty years earlier.   Such attentiveness to detail made it possible for Frost by persistent and devoted effort to wrest genetic-related information from a plant group in which marker genes and simple inheritance patterns are almost nonexistent.
      Howard Brett Frost, descended from French Huguenot and English ancestry, was born on September 28, 1881, in Dairyland, New York.   One year prior to his birth, his father George Todd Frost, a former school principal, left teaching because of poor health and purchased a snow-covered farm near the Catskill Mountains.   After the spring thaw, it became evident that the terrain was quite rocky.   As a child, Frost recalls that “every time we planted new crops our main occupation was picking up stones,” which were added to the rock fences between fields.   It was on this small farm with its apple orchard that Frost acquired an interest in the growing of fruits.
      Frost graduated from Dairyland’s elementary school and continued studies on his own until he qualified for a teacher-training course that equipped him to teach children in the one-room schoolhouses of this rural region.   Meanwhile, he became interested in several agricultural subjects from articles in The Rural New Yorker, a farm magazine.   In 1904, after four years of teaching, Frost entered Cornell University, where he registered in the College of Agriculture.
      Dr. John Craig, a professor of horticulture who had carried out considerable research on snapdragons, encouraged Frost in plant breeding experiments.   In Frost’s senior year, he conducted growth studies of Matthiola, the garden stock, and snapdragons in three separate greenhouses, discovering a number of peculiar variations in stocks which he later followed up in graduate work.   Frost received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1908.   He began graduate school, worked as a graduate assistant at Cornell, and interrupted his studies for about a year to take a Civil Service Commission post in Washington D.C.   He then returned to complete his Master of Science degree, followed by the Ph.D. in 1913.
      Frost’s work as a graduate student attracted the attention of Dr. Herbert John Webber, head of the department of plant breeding at Cornell, who with Walter T. Swingle had carried out citrus breeding experiments in Florida from 1892 to 1897.   In late 1912, Webber accepted the post of first director of the University of California Citrus Experiment station (now the Citrus Research Center and Agricultural Experiment Station) at Riverside, California.   On Webber’s recommendation, the Regents of the University hired Frost as a plant breeder.   The young scientist followed Webber to California, arriving at the Mount Rubidoux quarters of the experiment station in October, 1913.
      In embarking on a career in citrus breeding and genetics, Frost was aware that long years of perseverance would be needed to secure meaningful results.   Unlike fruit flies that complete a life cycle in three weeks or tomatoes which require four or five months, the period from seed to fruiting in citrus ranges from five to ten years.   This protractedness is compounded by the scarcity of sexually-produced plants obtainable from the seed of many citrus species.   Requisite to research that might extend over several generations of trees was a high degree of patience and dedication. Frost had chosen a harsh, lonely outpost of research, and more than three decades were to elapse before the enduring significance of his genetic studies was widely recognized and he was to see some of his hybrids and nucellar budlines attain commercial importance.
      Frost’s studies advanced the knowledge of genetic structure and crossing behavior in citrus.   He was the first to report accurately the normal chromosome number of citrus, he was one of the discoverers of polyploidy in citrus, and was the first American to describe citrus tetraploids.   Following up W. T. Swingle’s discovery that young trees originating as nucellar-seedling lines from old citrus varieties displayed juvenile characters and thus differed from their parent lines, Frost and others, including pathologists, carried out studies showing that both temporary juvenility and elimination of disease viruses in seed reproduction were involved, as well as occasional genetic variation.   Such basic scientific knowledge enabled Frost and his colleagues to develop commercial applications of great benefit to the citrus industry.   Today more than half of all lemon and orange varieties propagated in California are vigorous nucellar selections, some of which were originated by Frost.   He produced several high-quality mandarin hybrids, including the Kara and Kinnow.   Because of their influence throughout the citrus world, however, Frost’s greatest contributions are undoubtedly the two fundamental chapters on citrus genetics and reproduction which he wrote for the first edition of The Citrus Industry and the results of his research on nucellar-seedling lines.
      Throughout his active career, Frost remained associated with the institution at which he began his studies on citrus.   Even after achieving emeritus status, he continued work on citrus and on Matthiola incana.   In the latter area of research, Frost in collaboration with Margaret Mann Lesley discovered a gene entirely new to genetics that controlled chromosome elongation in Matthiola.   The Frost-Lesley studies included other significant contributions leading to the present methods for commercial production and selection of double-flowered stocks.   For many years, Frost was also interested in Esperanto, a form of international language, and he presented an exhibit on the possibilities of international auxiliary languages at the International Congress of Genetics in 1932.   The names of three citrus varieties produced by Frost are taken from Esperanto: Trovita (an orange) means “found”; Frua (a mandarin) means “early”; and Sukega (a grapefruit hybrid) means “very juicy.”
      Frost’s membership in scholarly societies has included the American Genetics Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Horticultural Science, and the Genetics Society of America.   In 1957, he was honored by the California Lemon Men’s Club for his distinguished service to the lemon industry.   His highest recognition came in 1966 when he was awarded the Wilder Medal of the American Pomological Society, the oldest and one of the most highly prized awards in American horticulture.