Norman Borlaug, Father of a Crop Revolution, Dies at …
Following his retirement, Borlaug has continued to participate actively in teaching, research and activism. He spends much of the year based at CIMMYT in Mexico, conducting research, and four months of the year serving at , where he has been a distinguished professor of international agriculture since 1984. In , the university's Board of Regents named its US$16 million Center for Southern Crop Improvement in honor of Borlaug. He works in the building's Heep Center, and teaches one semester each year.
Norman Borlaug - New World Encyclopedia
Several research institutions and buildings have been named in his honor, including: the Norman E. Borlaug Center for Farmer Training and Education, , , in ; Borlaug Hall, on the Campus of the in ; Borlaug Building at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) headquarters in 1986; the Norman Borlaug Institute for Plant Science Research at , , in ; and the Norman E. Borlaug Center for Southern Crop Improvement, at Texas A&M University in .
The initial yields of Borlaug's crops were higher than any ever harvested in . The countries subsequently committed themselves to importing large quantities of both the Lerma Rojo 64 and Sonora 64 varieties. In 1966, India imported 18,000 tons of this seed—the largest purchase and import of any seed in the world at that time. In , Pakistan imported 42,000 tons, while Turkey imported 21,000 tons. Pakistan's import, planted on 1.5 million acres (6,100 km²), produced enough wheat to seed the entire nation's wheatland the following year. By , when Ehrlich's book was released, William Gaud of the was calling Borlaug's work a "Green Revolution". High yields led to a shortage of various utilities: labor to harvest the crops, bullock carts to haul it to the threshing floor, jute bags, trucks, rail cars, and grain storage facilities. Some local governments were forced to close school buildings temporarily to use them for grain storage.
Borlaug: Borlaug, Norman Ernest Born ..
In , Borlaug extended this technique by suggesting that several purelines with different resistance genes should be developed through backcross methods using one recurrent parent. Backcrossing involves crossing a hybrid and subsequent generations with a recurrent parent. As a result, the genotype of the backcrossed progeny becomes increasingly similar to that of the recurrent parent. Borlaug's method would allow the various different disease-resistant genes from several donor parents to be transferred into a single recurrent parent. To make sure each line has different resistant genes, each donor parent is used in a separate backcross program. Between five and ten of these lines may then be mixed depending upon the races of pathogen present in the region. As this process is repeated, some lines will become susceptible to the . These lines can easily be replaced with new resistant lines. As new sources of resistance become available, new lines are developed. In this way, the loss of crops is kept to a minimum, because only one or a few lines become susceptible to a pathogen within a given season, and all other crops are unaffected by the disease. Because the disease would spread more slowly than if the entire population were susceptible, this also reduces the damage to susceptible lines. There is still the possibility that a new race of pathogen will develop to which all lines are susceptible, however.
Peak Energy: Norman Borlaug: Saint Or Sinner
To increase yield significantly in nutrient-poor soil, Borlaug needed to use . However, the cultivars he was working with had tall, thin stalks. Taller wheat grasses could better compete for sunlight, but tended to collapse under the weight of the extra grain—a trait called lodging—and from the rapid growth spurts induced by . To prevent this, he bred his wheat to favor shorter, stronger stalks that could better support larger seed heads. In 1953, he acquired a dwarf variety of wheat called that had been crossed with a high yielding American cultivar called Brevor 14. Dwarfing is an important agronomic quality for wheat; dwarf plants produce thick stems and do not lodge. Norin 10/Brevor is semi-dwarf (one-half to two-thirds the height of standard varieties) and produces more stalks and thus more heads of grain per plant. Also, larger amounts of were partitioned into the actual grains, further increasing the yield. Borlaug crossbred the semi-dwarf Norin 10/Brevor cultivar with his disease-resistant cultivars to produce wheat varieties that were adapted to tropical and sub-tropical climates.
Norman Borlaug: Saint Or Sinner
His work had initially been concentrated in the central highlands, in the village of near , where the problems with rust and poor soil were most prevalent. He realized, however, that he could speed up breeding by taking advantage of the country's two growing seasons. In the he would breed wheat in the central highlands as usual, but then immediately take the seeds north to the research station near , . The difference in altitudes and temperatures would allow more crops to be grown each year. His boss, George Harrar, was against this expansion. Besides the extra costs that would be incurred from doubling the work, Borlaug's plan went against a then-held principle of agronomy that has since been disproved. It was believed that seeds needed a rest period after harvesting, in order to store energy for germination before being planted, whereas Borlaug's new plan left no time between harvest and planting. Harrar vetoed his plan, causing Borlaug to resign. Elvin Stakman, who was visiting the project, calmed the situation, talking Borlaug into withdrawing his resignation and Harrar into allowing the double wheat season. As of 1945, wheat would then be bred at locations 700 miles (1000 km) apart, 10 degrees apart in latitude, and 8500 feet (2600 m) apart in altitude. This was called "shuttle breeding".