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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 91
GLENN WILLARD BURTON
May 5, 1910–November 22, 2005
BY ARNEL R. HALLAUER
GLENN W. BURTON IS A PROMINENT name in the recorded history of forage and turfgrass breeding during the 20th century. His formal research career of 61 years started with the application of the principles of Mendelian genetics for improvement of grasses to the application of molecular genetics for grass improvement during the latter years of his career. Burton made significant improvements in plant breeding and genetics of forage and turfgrasses, which had economic and social impacts on the forage-based cattle industry, the turfgrass industry, and agriculture of the southern areas of the United States and worldwide. He developed coastal bermudagrass and solved problems associated with its establishment and management. Coastal bermudagrass was officially released in 1943. Burton continued to make improvements in bermudagrass, with seven improved cultivars released during his career, including Tifton 85 (released in 1992).
The history of Burton’s research on bermudagrass is a consistent theme throughout his 70 years in grass research. He integrated the different aspects of basic research with applied research to ensure that a product was delivered that was of benefit to the public. He had broad research interests, and he was convinced that both basic and applied research