Dedication: William Carroll Barnes

Richard L. Lower

North Central Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors and
Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706-1562

Additional index words. breeding, vegetables, cucurbits, cucumber, melon, watermelon, lettuce

Abstract. William Carroll Barnes was born January 18, 1908 in Hampton County, South Carolina. He graduated from Clemson University in 1931 and received his PhD degree in 1935 from Cornell University. He served on the staff of Cornell University as an instructor for 2 years after receiving his PhD degree. In 1937, he returned to South Carolina and became Superintendent of the Clemson University Truck Crops Experiment Station at Charleston. He served in that position until 1970, when he began devoting full time to plant breeding. Barnes died suddenly on 12 Sept. 1973 at the age of 65. He retired from Clemson in 1972.


William Carroll Barnes is best known for his breeding work with cucumbers, both slicing and pickling types. His first major contribution came in 1948 when he released the downy mildew resistant cultivar 'Palmetto'. 'Palmetto' was followed by other improved slicing cucumber varieties such as 'Santee', 'Stono', 'Ashley', and 'Poinsett'. All were monoecious, and each new variety carried a higher level of disease resistance, and increased quality and yield over its predecessor. In the mid-1960s, Barnes released two gynoecious, hybrid slicing cucumber varieties, 'Cherokee' and 'Gemini'. These hybrids possessed resistance to scab, cucumber mosaic virus, downy mildew, anthracnose, powdery mildew and field tolerance to angular leafspot. The gynoecious hybrid varieties utilized gynoecious inbreds developed by Barnes. These inbreds, and the monoecious cultivars, served as parental material for many commercial hybrids introduced over the next decade.

Concomitant with the development of the slicing cucumbers noted above, Barnes developed and released a series of monoecious pickling cucumber varieties such as 'Pixie', 'Galaxy', and 'Chipper'. These cultivars all possessed resistance to the southern foliage disease complex, i.e., downy and powdery mildew, anthracnose and angular leafspot. Barnes also developed a monoecious breeding line, SC10, and a gynoecious breeding line, GY3, possessing resistance to the above diseases. Together, these inbreds formed the variety

Southern Cross, the first gynoecious pickling cucumber variety with resistance to this series of diseases.

All of the aforementioned varieties and breeding lines, both slicing and pickling, were white-spined. Barnes successfully combined the white-spined GY3 with 'Wisconsin SMR18', a black-spined pickling type that had resistance to scab and mosaic and introduced 'Pioneer', a black-spined gynoecious hybrid pickling cucumber variety that had resistance to scab and cucumber mosaic virus, and field tolerance to anthracnose, downy mildew and angular leafspot.

A few years later in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Barnes released his final breeding lines of pickling cucumber, GY14 and a monoecious cultivar, 'Sumter'. The combination of GY14 by 'Sumter' was named 'Carolina'. It was the prominent pickling cucumber variety in the early 1970s and possessed resistance to scab, cucumber mosaic virus, anthracnose, powdery and downy mildew, and field tolerance to angular leafspot. GY14 and 'Sumter' are still used today by the pickling cucumber industry.

The development of these disease-resistant cultivars permitted the production of cucumbers in the fall season in the southeastern growing areas of the United States. Before their introduction, disease control in Fall crops was by means of fungicidal chemicals. This was very expensive and often inadequate as disease control was seldom more than marginal. Although the disease

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resistance was of less importance with the spring crop, the dependency on the use of fungicides was greatly reduced and resulted in lower production costs. The disease resistance effectively lengthened the harvest period and greatly increased the opportunity for a successful cropping season.

Although Barnes was certainly most well known for his contributions to cucumber breeding, he was also responsible for the development and release of the 'Cherokee Wax' snap bean and 'Paris Island' cos lettuce varieties. Although both minor crops, in each case they were superior to cultivars formerly available and were planted almost exclusively where these crops were grown in South Carolina and in adjoining states. Barnes was well respected as a practicing plant pathologist with a broad range of research and technical skills. He developed and utilized the techniques for field screening for resistance to various pathogens. He freely used plant introductions, and introgressed genes for resistance to foliage diseases common to the southern growing areas for several crops, but his major contributions were to slicing and pickling cucumber.

Barnes blended a strong plant pathological background with breeding and genetic skills, and unlimited perseverance to identify and incorporate disease resistance characters from wild plant introductions that offer and little else but resistance and sex expression genes. He possessed a breeder's eye and was relentless in his pursuit for disease-resistant lines that were of superior horticultural type. He was among the first to utilize the male-sterile or gynoecious character successfully in the development of hybrid seed of leading varieties of cucumber. In addition to his breeding prowess, Barnes was an all-around horticulturist who published on irrigation requirements, soil management, and several forms of pest control, i.e., weeds, pathogens and insects. He was equally versatile in working with a large range of vegetable crops, and his experimental work at the Clemson Truck Station kept South Carolina growers up to date on recommendations concerning varieties, fertilization, cultivation, and crop rotations.

Barnes was alert to new developments in vegetable production practices. He adapted and recommended those that were worthwhile, and was quick to reject those that were of little value to vegetable growers of South Carolina. Barnes served as superintendent of the Clemson University Truck Crop Experiment Station at Charleston, S.C., from 1937 to 1970. He was well known and respected by growers who visited his station frequently for his advice about a wide range of vegetable cultivars, technologies, and horticultural practices.

Professionally, Barnes was recognized as an ASHS Fellow. He was an ASHS member for 40 years and served as member and chair of several society committees. He was also responsible for many vegetable trials and served as chair of the Southern Cooperative Cucumber Trials for over a decade. Locally, he was a member of the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Agricultural Society and a chair of their Agriculture Committee. Barnes received many awards and recognition from industry, and from his professional society.

Barnes crafted a strong and unique relationship with industry scientists, and this camaraderie helped advance his contributions in a more timely manner because of the dedicated support of his industry colleagues. In 1951, they awarded him Honorary Membership in the South Carolina Seedsman's Association. In 1953, he received the Southern Seedsman's Agricultural award, followed by the 1968 Hall of Fame award by Pickle Packers International, and 1969 Man of the Year in Service to South Carolina Agriculture award from The Progressive Farmer magazine. In 1970, he received Canner/Packer's first annual award for the Most Distinguished Contribution to 20th Century Food Processing.

Barnes was a civil servant too. He was president and member of several civic organizations in the Charleston area. A person with an extraordinary zeal for helping his fellow man, Barnes spent most of his only year after retirement working with and advising missionaries engaged in agricultural development in Zaire. He gave unselfishly of his time, expertise, experience, wisdom and talents to his society, his university, and his community.

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