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UNH professor recognized for 50 years of food research

Union Leader Correspondent

October 04. 2017 10:12PM
Professor Brent Loy credited the growers who use his products and techniques, as well as the graduate students who work with him, during a celebration Tuesday evening in Madbury. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

This bicolor striped pumpkin will be available to growers in a few years. Researcher Brent Loy at UNH is working to bring it to market. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

MADBURY — Dozens of colleagues and former students turned out Tuesday evening to celebrate a research professor who is creating new varieties of spineless yellow summer squash, striped ornamental pumpkins and rootstocks for melon grafting.

Brent Loy works at the University of New Hampshire’s Kingman Research Farm on Knox Marsh Road in Madbury. Loy, a professor emeritus of plant biology and genetics, began breeding squash and melons in 1967.

Over the years, Loy expanded to pumpkins and gourds. His work has resulted in more than 60 new varieties of squash, pumpkins, gourds and melons sold in seed catalogs worldwide.

Today, he also is responsible for 29 percent of the college’s cumulative royalties earned since 1999, according to UNH officials.

“Brent is an exceptionally talented plant breeder,” said Maria Emanuel, the associate director of UNHInnovation, which manages and promotes UNH’s intellectual property.

“We see the benefits of his work throughout the world, but it has always been based on regional needs.”

Lorraine Merrill, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food, said growers know they can rely on Loy’s seeds for success.

“If you have a Brent Loy variety, it will turn out and it tastes great,” Merrill said.

Merrill looked at Loy and said, “I don’t think you can have any idea the depth of appreciation growers, not only in New Hampshire but the Northeast, have for you.”

Loy credited his success to the growers who use his products and techniques, as well as the graduate students who have worked at the farm over the years.

Loy said he is constantly looking to bring things to the next level in his research.

“There’s always things you can do to improve crops,” he said.

Loy said he has recently taken an interest in butternut squash, which have rot problems and need to be stored for a while after harvesting. He is working on a variety that is more stable and can be eaten immediately.

Loy’s research is funded by the N.H. Agricultural Experiment Station at UNH, which was founded in 1887 and is the school’s original research center. The station is an elemental component of the land-grant university’s heritage and mission, according to information distributed at the event.

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