Dr. Vogel served effectively for many years as an employee of the USDA-ARS located at Washington State University. Following his retirement he continued this dedicated service to the Wheat industry for the state of Washington with his contributions and activities in the O. A. Vogel Wheat Research Fund. During the course of his career he developed many improved cultivars each of which contributed to increased profitability and grain yields for farmers and consumers. He was the first to develop a commercial semi-dwarf cultivar of cereal grain in North America. In particular he developed Gaines and Nugaines wheat which established the high-yielding potential for soft white winter wheat. His germplasm contributed to other breeding programs around the world and led to successful uses of semi-dwarf wheat for worldwide wheat improvement.
Dr. Vogel is not only recognized as a world leader in wheat research, but his work contributed significantly to wheat production in the Pacific Northwest and particularly Washington State. In the state of Washington his research added tremendously to the economic value of wheat and completely changed our concept of managing wheat. He coined the term “semi-dwarf’ to designate a genetically altered plant type which had great production capability and yield efficiency. This term rapidly became a household word for the growers who utilized his cultivars. Dr. Vogel shared his germplasm with Dr. Norman Borlaug, leader of the CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center) program in Mexico which sparked the green revolution. Dr. Borlaug was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and publicly credited Dr. Vogel’s contribution for the success of his worldwide crop improvement program.
Dr. Vogel was much more than a wheat breeder. He was a highly practical and effective agronomist and very productive engineer. He was an inventor of plot equipment which served as the basis for fully mechanizing wheat research at Washington State University. The most famous of his equipment inventions was the Vogel thresher which is used in virtually every part of the world. Dr. Vogel was not satisfied to just produce high yielding, high quality wheat varieties, but he was also concerned with the practical aspects of wheat production and what this meant to the farmers in the Pacific Northwest. The Orville A. Vogel Endowed Chair in Wheat Breeding and Genetics will perpetuate this type of research and education at WSU.
Uses and Purposes
The main objectives of the Orville A. Vogel Endowed Chair in Wheat Breeding and Genetics are:
- To honor Dr. Vogel’s leadership values and interests in the wellbeing of the wheat industry at Washington state.
- To attract a faculty member with expertise in wheat breeding and genetics to serve as a focal point for continuing research of this nature and to coordinate the multi-discipline related wheat research efforts to enhance the total varietal research program at Washington State University.
- To ensure dedication to wheat breeding and improvement through the latest techniques in science and cultivar development.
- To train undergraduate and graduate students and research associates in wheat breeding and genetics.
- To complement the existing research, teaching and extension programs in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and other related departments.
- To teach one graduate level plant breeding or genetics lecture class one semester per year, and act as advisor to selected graduate students.