West Lafayette, IN
Herb Ohm is a professor of agronomy at Purdue University, where he has distinguished himself in the area of wheat and oat breeding research. Ohm graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1967 with a B.S. degree, and received his M.S. in 1969 from North Dakota State. He received a Ph.D. in 1972 from Purdue, and he joined the faculty that year.
Ohm is an accomplished scientist, recognized internationally for his development of improved wheat and oat varieties. He has developed cultivars of wheat, both through traditional plant breeding and through gene transfer, that have dramatically improved profitability for Indiana producers, addressing issues of disease resistance, hardiness and yield potential. The cultivars Goldfield and Patterson set standards for winter hardiness, and Patterson has been the most widely grown public cultivar in Indiana since 1988. Currently Ohm leads a team that has released cultivars with resistance to glume blotch and Fusarium head blight, fungal diseases which have increased in reduced tillage production systems, as well as yellow dwarf virus, and aphid-borne disease, and the team has advanced lines in which multiple resistance genes against all three diseases are pyramided. The oat cultivar Classic has the highest level of yellow dwarf resistance among commercial varieties. Ohm’s influence in crop breeding is immense; he has former graduate students in position of research and management at all of the major U.S. seed companies.
Ohm has served on the board of directors and the executive committee of the Indiana Crop Improvement Association (ICIA), where he continues to serve on the small grains committee. He received ICIA’s Crops and Soils Merit award in 1988. He has also worked with the Ag Alumni Seed Improvement Association on special problems of cultivar release. In 2000 the wheat research team that he leads received the Purdue College of Agriculture Team Award. He is active and has served in many capacities for both the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and he was chairman of the American Oat Workers Conference from 1990-1994. He received ASA’s Agronomic Achievement Award in Crops in 1994 and was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2001.