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W. B. Alwood

William Bradford Alwood was an early pioneer of pest management and fruit culture. He was referred to by his peers during his era as father of Virginia horticulture, the savior of the Virginia fruit industry, and a worldwide expert in pomology, viticulture, enology, and pest management. At Virginia Tech he is regarded as the father of our horticulture and pest management disciplines and as one of the University's greatest scientists.

Virginia State Horticultural Society

Alwood was the force behind organizing the fruit growers of Virginia against a pest that threatened to wipe out the industry in the 1890s. Alwood discovered the San Jose Scale in Albemarle county in 1892. He organize the growers to help him lobby the General Assembly to pass the first pest control law in the eastern United States. Early reports indicate that the Virginia State Horticultural Society was founded by William Alwood and 12 other growers in the Charlottesville area of Albemarle County on March 7, 1894. According to the society's constitution, it was officially organized on March 3, 1897. It was later incorporated on March 7, 1900.

Throughout his career, William Alwood was a catalyst behind the success of the Virginia State Horticultural Society. Long forgotten by the organization today, at its beginning, Alwood dedicated his leadership to establishing and helping the organization grow. The early leaders of the group accredited Alwood as the savior of the Virginia fruit industry and father of Virginia horticulture. The Society has organized fruit growers for over 100 years and its annual meetings are an institution in Virginia.


It was Professor Alwood, in 1888, who realized the need for more information in connection with the production and distribution of the Virginia apple. Alwood planned and developed a method whereby the origin and territorial distribution of Virginia apples were reported to his office by the station agents of the various railroads. This was the beginning of reports on commercial apple shipments and the information was secured with equal accuracy and in more detail than was later developed by the US Department of Agriculture with its carlot shipments reporting service.


It was Alwood who initiated formal orchard spray regimens for growers that further expanded commercial horticulture. This commercial apple industry was further developed when refrigeration and cold storage came on the scene in 1890s. Alwood designed the Alwood fruit cellar that became a classic design followed by growers all over the United States. This activity made it possible to store and export the Albemarle Pippin internationally.


In 2011, the Virginia State Horticultural Society became one of several major donors to support the building of the Alwood Plaza at Virginia Tech. The organization's name is etched on the permanent plaque placed on the stone memorial built to preserve the legacy of Professor Alwood.



Copyright, 2011, M. J. Weaver. All rights reserved and protected under the Berne Convention Implementation Act, amending the 1976 Copyright Act to conform to most of the provisions of the Berne Convention.

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