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Retired professor awarded vegetable breeding award

Courtesy photo Retired plant biology and genetics professor, Brent Loy pictured with his vegetables. Loy’s hard word and research has led to the development of over 60 new types of squash, pumpkins, gourds, and melons which that been sold worldwide.

Professor Emeritus Brent Loy was awarded the 2015 Vegetable Breeding Working Group Award of Excellence by the American Society of Horticultural Science.

Loy, a retired professor of plant biology and genetics, has been doing research with the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station, a group that dedicates its time to researching agricultural advancements.

“It was nice to get the recognition that comes with that award,” Loy said. “I was nominated for the award last spring and knew I would get the award a few months before it was given out.”

The Vegetable Breeding Working Group Award of Excellence is annually given to a recipient who has shown a breeding program that has had a large impact on the vegetable industry. This impact must provide important basic information on cultivar or germplasm releases.

Germplasms are the seeds that are used when breeding plants and cultivar is a specific type of plant that is created by selective breeding. Cultivars are plants grown in cultivation by selective breeding.

Loy’s research has led to the development of over 60 new types of squash, pumpkins, gourds and melons. These vegetables have since been sold throughout the world.

“Breeding results are not instantaneous,” Loy said. “My first variety was not developed until after being at UNH for 13 years, with second one after 19 years.”

Loy has done most of his work at the NHAES Kingman Farm in Madbury and at UNH’s Macfarlane Research Greenhouses. Loy said it takes a long time to create a vegetable strain with desirable traits. Loy’s goal for these vegetables was to create hybrid varieties that will have superior benefits for human use.

“The majority of my varieties have been released during the past 20 years,” Loy said. “But the framework for those varieties were laid down with all of the previous work, much of it having to do with the physiology of crop yield and related research in agricultural plastics.” 

Due to his work, Loy is responsible for 35 percent of UNH’s cumulative royalties that they have earned since the year 1999.

Loy has worked along with UNHInnovations, a group that advocates and manages the UNH’s intellectual properties. In 2011, he received the university’s inaugural Innovator of the Year award

Loy recalled that he had been interested in plants and horticulture since he was young.

“My grandfather was a farmer in Kansas, and that, plus having a garden throughout my childhood generated my interest in horticulture,” Loy said. “I began working on a small vegetable farm in the fifth grade, continuing through high school.”

As Loy grew older, his interest in horticulture grew as well and he enrolled in Oklahoma State’s horticulture program. Loy then went on to do graduate work at Colorado State University’s genetics program.

“I plan to continue my breeding work as long as I can get funding, be productive, and make contributions to the university,” Loy said.

Since Loy has received the award, he has continued to pursue his research in vegetable breeding.

“When you have passion for your work, you do not seek awards, you seek to be successful with your career of choice and hope that what you do may contribute to the lives of others,” Loy said.

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