Loy William Shreve

See also the tribute by Larry Stein

Loy William Shreve was born in Smoke Hole, West Virginia on October 8, 1926. Loy Shreve was a forester and horticulturist. His first job was as a forester in the Kentucky Division of Forestry in 1954. In 1964, he went to Kansas to earn his Masters of Science and Doctorate Degree from Kansas State University. While there he worked as an Extension forester-fire control for four years then as Extension forester - tree improvement for eight years. It was during this period that he became a master plant propagator and developed-perfected such techniques as the greenwood graft ("Greenwood Grafting of Pecans." 1977 Texas Pecan Orchard Management Handbook; http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/propagation/greenwood/index.html ) and rooting of Juglans species, which had rarely been accomplished. He brought this talent and interest in propagation to his position as horticultural specialist in Uvalde, Texas, in 1976. His proficiency in grafting and propagation inspired his most devoted followers to sometime refer to him as "Super Shreve" -- much to his embarrassment.

In 1987, Dr. Loy Shreve retired and was awarded the Superior Service Award by the Texas Cooperative Extension. The award reads: "For creative, dynamic leadership, untiring service and personal dedication to planning and implementing innovative educational programs in commercial horticulture, providing diversification and profitability for Texas residents."

Dr. Loy Shreve was a formulator, instigator, facilitator and promoter of horticultural production practices. He introduced a greater diversity of horticultural industries into Texas than any other Texas A&M Extension specialist. These included apples on dwarf rootstocks, grapes on native rootstocks, walnuts on native walnut rootstock, pistachios, pinon pines, native hawthorns, olives and almonds. Native grape rootstock is more drought tolerant and salt tolerant (salty water) than is the standard rootstock. ("Adapting exotic or non-native walnuts and stone fruits to high pH soils by use of native stock." 72nd Annual Report of the Northern Nutgrowers Association, in 1981.) Using technology developed by Dr. Shreve, pecan producers can now become walnut producers as well; peach producers can grow almonds. Dr. Shreve's almost legendary plant propagation abilities and techniques enabled him to combine the desirable characteristics of cultivated fruit and nut varieties with the survivability of native types as well as proliferate superior types. This he also shared with people in other countries such as China and Romania. As he searched worldwide for pest-resistant fruit and nut varieties, he exchanged North American fruit and nut germplasm that will, in years to come, help feed a hungry world.

Much of his success was due to his eternal optimism, personal dedication and common-sense intellectualism--all of which was readily accepted and appreciated by clientele. It has been said that Dr. Shreve accomplished "the impossible" because he did not understand the meaning of the words "can't" and "impossible". He inspired and counciled with many of his colleagues to become proficient plant propagators.

Dr. Shreve had personally searched worldwide for pest-resistant fruit and nut varieties that can produce food of the highest quality with a minimum of pest control. Dr. Shreve introduced production schemes such as fall watering of pecan trees to prevent nut sprouting, pruning techniques to prevent sun scalding of fruit, and use of native rootstocks to prevent iron chlorosis which meant the difference between profit and loss to many producers. Commercial grape varieties grafted onto native grape rootstocks were also used by Dr. Shreve because they are more drought tolerant and salt tolerant (salty water) than is the standard rootstock. ("Adapting exotic or non-native walnuts and stone fruits to high pH soils by use of native stock." 72nd Annual Report of the Northern Nutgrowers Association, in 1981.)

One of the major contributions of Loy Shreve was the introduction of pecan timber marketing to Texas. ("Pecan Lumber Situation." 1977 Texas Pecan Orchard Management Handbook ) Prior to Dr. Shreve's Extension educational program, timber which was removed in the renovation of orchards was piled and burned at great expense. Because of Dr. Shreve's efforts, timber can now be marked, cut and sold for a profit. Possible environmental pollution from burning is avoided, native stands of pecan trees are made more productive and a profit is possible from sale of trees. Dr. Shreve works closely with producers to develop alternative marketing strategies such as cider from excess apples and "Texas- grown" juice from grapes rather than cheap wine.

Through the practical, reliable recommendations of Dr. Loy Shreve, urbanites can now successfully produce fruit and nut crops. As urban "farmers" attempt fruit and nut production in their own back yard, they begin to realize the necessary inputs and potential hazards of successfully producing a commercial crop. This empathy is very important in bridging the ever-increasing, rural-urban gaps of misunderstanding and apathy. Dr. Shreve also involved many urbanites in fruit and nut production through his many popular grafting clinics where people were offered the opportunity to come and learn how to "make their own" fruit tree. Such clinics drew record-breaking attendance in many counties.

Texas fruit and nut producers know that a sound orchard or grove far outlasts the life of the person that planted it -- sometimes by hundreds of years. The accomplishments of Dr. Loy Shreve that influenced horticulture of the world will be remembered and appreciated long after any of the many trees/orchards/groves he planted or inspired others to plant. Dr. Shreve's indelable mark on horticulture and society will not be forgotten.

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Some of the sentiments of cooperators of Dr. Shreve are:

"Over the period that Dr. Shreve has worked with me, I have come to admire the professional way in which he has approached this venture. Each person who has planted the trees has been carefully and systematically lectured about the possible risks involved, and the enthusiasm he has for apple plantings has always been tempered with caution. At the present time there are a few rather large plantings, such as mine, and all of the experimenters have been schooled in the risks and each can afford to fail. In addition, there are quite a few smaller plantings in home orchards in this area. There are about 30,000 apple trees that have been planted in the last five years. An association of growers has been formed, which has about 30 members, for the purpose of sharing the information gained by experience."

"One of the things that we appreciate the most about Dr. Shreve is that despite his very busy schedule, he has been willing to devote as much time as we have needed from him as the size of our operation and its complexity has multiplied. We certainly have never felt launched and then forgotten."

"Above all, the most appreciated thing about Dr. Shreve by everyone he comes in contact with is that he is a kind and good man with nothing but the best intentions. His genuine love and curiosity about plants is infectious and has become one of the best known and most admired men in this area. It is hoped that when all is said and done he will be credited for bringing a new and valuable apple industry to the Southwest Texas area, for he would be richly deserving of it."
Baxter Adams, Jr.
Love Creek Orchards
Medina, Texas

"Dr. Shreve's knowledge of timber and marketing ("Pecan timber potential in Texas." 1976. 55th Annual Conference Texas Pecan Growers Association). has opened a door for the use of pecan lumber that was wasted by burning in the past. This gives to the land owner a further reward for removing those trees that are too close together as well as greater production of nuts in future years. It also adds to a short supply of good hardwood."

"His selection and importation of new strains of walnuts ("Texas Walnut Potential." 1977 Texas Pecan Orchard Management Handbook.) as well as his knowledge of orchard management has helped me as well as others in this area, produce pecans and walnuts ("Dual crops from walnuts and pecans." 67th Annual Report of the Northern Nutgrowers Association.) of high quality economically with the minimum use of chemicals."

"He has also been instrumental in the selection and adaptation of apples to the area thus adding to the economy and income of farm families. The varieties we can grow are able to compete on the open market."

"His present work in the production or mushrooms shows great promise for another method of diversification in income production and another use of scrap hardwood that was only burned to get rid of it in the past, as well as the production of a gourmet food item."

James L. Greer, Jr. (deceased)
Rocksprings, Texas

"Loy Shreve was the kind of person who should be recognized for his work in the Extension Service and for his research activities. I became interested in Dr. Shreve from a report he made on a trip he made to Romania and Hungary in 1981. He brought back seed and grafting material which he used at the Station in Uvalde. For instance, the Romanian walnuts that he planted would grow up to four or five feet tall and then perish. He was enough of a research man, however, to overcome this shortcoming by grafting these imported nut trees on the native walnuts growing in the valleys and along the creeks of South Texas. I have some of these trees and they are doing very well."

"I sent Dr. Shreve to China in 1986. He has some interesting walnut varieties growing in this area and some apples from northern China as well. He also saw some very fine grapes, the best he had ever seen and eaten. They were placed on the native Mustang grape vines."

"This was a first-class agricultural worker who did a fine job with his research work as well as his Extension activities which makes it possible that these products can be applied at various places in South Texas."
Sterling C. Evans (deceased)
Castroville, Texas