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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

1950-1959
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Celebrating Over 90 Years of scientific excellence in agricultural sciences and human nutrition


Photo: Geneticist Ed Darrow with strawberries in greenhouse, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center At Beltsville:
  • 12,094 acres
  • 2,399 employees
  • 3,000 experimental farm animals
  • 10,000 laying and breeding fowls
  • 600 cattle
  • 5,500 small animals
  • 40 lab buildings
  • 31 greenhouses
  • 100 barns and storage
  • 500 small animal houses
Return to top of page Photo: Strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries in pint boxes A steady stream of new varieties of fruits and vegetables with enhanced disease resistance, increased flavor, and other improvements are released.

Notable varieties include the `Roma' tomato; `Topcrop' and `Tendercrop' beans; `Kennebec', `Atlantic', and `BelRus' potatoes; `Surecrop', `Earilglow' and `Allstar' strawberries; and `Duke', `Jersey' and `Bluecrop' blueberries. Variety development continues today as consumer needs change.

First U.S. Plant Quarantine Station is established at Glenn Dale, MD.
Return to top of page Photo: Calf infected with screwworm,  Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, 1930s Work begins to eliminate screwworms, making the first use of E.F. Knipling's idea of sterile male insect release. The technique calls for raising millions of flies, sterilizing and then releasing them to mate with native flies, interrupting the population cycle. In 1982, screwworm is eliminated from the U.S.

Scientists demonstrate that there is variation in the dietary availability of carotenes in different foods.
Return to top of page Photo: Children in school lunch program, 1950s National School Lunch Program standards are established, providing a "well balanced" meal to meet one-third of a child's daily dietary allowance.

Release of the first in a series of turfgrass cultivars and germplasm with improved disease resistance and stress tolerance -- `Merion' Kentucky bluegrass, `Meyer' and `Belair' zoysia grasses, germplasm of tall fescue tolerant to acid soil, and the first zoysia grass from seed. Scientists also maintain a long association with the U.S. Golf Association to improve turfgrass varieties and management for recreational use.
Return to top of page Photo: Flock of Beltsville small white turkeys, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, n.d. The first recorded spontaneous occurrence of parthenogenesis--the ability to give birth to offspring without mating with a male--in warm blooded animals is discovered in turkeys. A strain of Beltsville small white turkeys is then bred for a high incidence of parthenogenesis.

Last Modified: 9/20/2013