PULLMAN, Wash.—The Washington State University scientist credited with saving Washington's potato industry from internal blackspot died Oct. 25, just weeks short of his 100th birthday.
Robert Kunkel retired from the WSU faculty in 1974. When he was inducted into the Utah State University College of Agriculture Alumni Hall of Fame in 2000, the director general of the Consortium for International Development described Kunkel as “the greatest living potato physiologist.”
Kunkel's research on blackspot, fertility, water requirements and minimum tillage culture are credited with a 50 percent increase in Washington potato yields, from 300 cwt per acre to 450.
Kunkel received a bachelor's degree in horticulture from Utah State University (then Utah State Agricultural College) in 1937 and a doctorate from Cornell University in 1945. During his career at Colorado State University, Cornell and WSU Kunkel wrote more than 100 scientific publications.
SOURCE: Terence L. Day, for the Capital Press