Portrait of Chapman, Homer D.

Chapman, Homer D.

April 17, 1998

Audio Clip

Get Audio/Video Player Free

Back to Home Page

Daisy Chapman and Professor Homer Chapman, a legendary couple who have had a century of life and a profound impact on world agriculture, recall the early days of the Citrus Experiment Station before the campus was founded.
Excerpt from Transcript
Erickson: Could you talk a little about the early leaders at UCR who made agriculture so vibrant?

Chapman: Yes, the various people were: Dr. Batchelor; Dr. Fawcett, who was head of Plant Pathology; Howard Reed, who was Chairman of Plant Physiology; Howard Frost, who was head of Genetics; and Dr. Kelley, who was my boss and head of Agricultural Chemistry; and Dr. Quayle, Entomology. Those were the key people. A little later a man by the name of Harry Smith came in to head up a subsection of Entomology. It was called Biological Control. It had to do with trying to find predators that would get after and kill off red scale, black scale and other pests. These were the people, who through their publications and travels, got the Citrus Experiment Station known around the world. The citrus growers marketing organization published a monthly magazine known as the Citrograph, and that Citrograph began to be circulated to a lot of citrus areas, in other parts of the world-South Africa, Australia, Italy, etc. I was amazed when I visited South Africa in 1957, and one of the citrus growers hauled out his copies of the Citrograph to show me articles that I had written, but other staff of CES had written, too. It was the research on citrus that gained us the reputation around the world. Citrus is grown in a belt about thirty degrees north and south of the equator. Citrus, according to some, is the third most important fruit crop in the world. Apples are first and bananas are second.

Erickson: That's interesting.

Chapman: Of course, by citrus I mean oranges, lemons, grapefruit, mandarins and some others.

Erickson: What were some of the problems that were plaguing the citrus industry at that time?

Chapman: Diseases, pests, soil, irrigation and other problems were numerous. There was a disorder called ""Mottle leaf"." "Mottle leaf" was widespread. It was worse on some soils than others, but it was present almost everywhere in the citrus industry. The work preceding (and there hadn't been much at the beginning) did not discover the cause. The discovery of what it was came out of research by a horticulturist from Berkeley. His name was William Chandler, Dr. William Chandler, a graduate of Cornell. He was working on a disease called "little leaf" and dieback of peaches in the San Joaquin Valley. He put on massive doses of iron sulfate in soils and noticed that with different batches, the iron sulfate had a curative effect on the peach disorder. So, he had an analyst at Berkeley analyze the two, and the man found that the one doing the job had zinc contamination. Immediately, he grabbed hold of that and our farm advisors began putting zinc on citrus trees, and lo and behold, it cured "Mottle leaf." So, we had a whole series of experiments using different kinds of zinc and so forth, and that was put into the hands, primarily, of the horticulturist.

In both pest control and disease control and the control of "Mottle leaf," the Citrus Experiment Station here became well known throughout the world.

Questions Regarding this Oral History Project should be directed to Jan Erickson at jan.erickson@ucr.edu.