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DANNE, JOSEPH, JR. (1887-1959)

A self-taught plant geneticist, Joseph Danne developed a variety of wheat well suited to the southern plains of the United States. It produces high yields in shorter growing seasons and is often the primary donor in contemporary hybridization experiments.

Danne was born near Avoca, Nebraska, to German immigrant parents on November 27, 1887. In 1893 his family moved to Kingfisher County, Oklahoma Territory, where he received eight years of formal education. At twenty-three he purchased a farm in Beckham County, commencing cross-breeding experiments. Danne learned his craft by reading voraciously and working assiduously. In 1936 he moved to Canadian County and in 1939 commercially introduced Reliant Wheat, a short-stalk, drought-resistant wheat of abundant yield. One year later he released Triumph Wheat, an improved variety of Reliant immediately recognized for its growing qualities.

Choosing to remain single, Danne grew aloof from his family, had few close friends, jealously guarded his secrets, lived simply without personal ostentation, and remained focused on his goals. He was universally regarded as honest, religious, scrupulous, and eccentric. He died on his farm on October 28, 1959. Joseph Danne's personal papers may be viewed at the Chisholm Trail Museum in Kingfisher, Oklahoma.

SEE ALSO: GERMANS, IMMIGRATION, SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Edmund A. Peters, "Joseph Danne: Oklahoma Plant Geneticist and His Triumph Wheat," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 59 (Spring 1981). Richard C. Rohrs, The Germans in Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980).

Thomas L. Hedglen

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