Rice Industry Bids Farewell to RES
Director D. MArlin Brandon


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Brandon.jpg (38860 bytes)Donald Marlin Brandon, whose dedicated leadership of the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation helped guide the California rice industry into unparalleled success, passed away February 1, 2000 at his Oroville home of natural causes.  He was 62.

Dr. Brandon served as director of the CCRRF and its nearly 500-acre Rice Experiment Station for 15 years.  He was a champion of interdisciplinary research and his work on mineral nutrition and best management practices helped boost rice yields greatly in California and elsewhere.  The gravelly voiced Southerner devoted his entire professional life to the rice industry he loved.

Born December 20, 1937 in Huntingdon, Tennessee, Dr. Brandon grew up on a small farm near Clarksburg.  After a two-year stint in the army, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Tennessee at Martin and a Master of Science degree in soil microbiology from Iowa State University.  He then moved to California, where he accepted a position in 1966 as University of California rice farm advisor for Colusa, Glenn and Yolo counties.

After eight years as a farm advisor, "Marlin" moved to Davis to become the University’s rice extension agronomist.  He also enrolled in UC Davis, earning his Ph.D. in soil science in 1977.  During this time Dr. Brandon was instrumental in conducting research that revealed zinc deficiency to be the cause of what was commonly termed alkali disease in rice.  He and his colleagues developed educational programs to correct the problem that were rapidly adopted by growers.  They demonstrated the advantage of band applications of phosphorous in rice rotation crops, resulting in significant yield increases of barley, corn, grain sorghum, wheat and safflower.  Dr. Brandon and his colleagues improved fertilizer efficiency in rice by the use of plant tissue analysis and the establishment of critical levels of major plant nutrients for California rice varieties.  They also developed "best management practices" to optimize grain production of the new semidwarf varieties in the late 1970s.

In 1979 Dr. Brandon left California for a faculty position at the Louisiana State University Rice Research Station in Crowley, where he continued his work on soils and plant nutrition.  With his vast experience, research and team approach, Marlin expedited the rapid adoption of improved semidwarf varieties and management practices throughout the Southern U.S.  Dr. Brandon returned to California to head up the Rice Experiment Station and the CCRRF in 1985.

As director of the Rice Experiment Station, Dr. Brandon provided leadership for improved rice for California, including new specialty market types.  He was an avid supporter of cooperative research with the University of California, the USDA and the private sector.  His leadership and participation were essential in helping California address many complex rice production issues and challenges.

Dr. Brandon was elected a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, received the California Rice Industry Award, and twice earned the Distinguished Rice Research and Education Award.   He also served in several professional organizations concerned with rice and environmental improvement.

Marlin was a respected mentor and engaging teacher of rice production science to colleagues, students and growers everywhere he went.  He had an unselfish desire to share his knowledge and expertise with others and did so at every opportunity.    Dr. Brandon leaves this world a well-liked and esteemed professional who made tremendous contributions during his lifetime.  He will be greatly missed and fondly remembered.

The Rice Research Trust is establishing a D. Marlin Brandon Rice Research Fellowship to be awarded to full-time University of California or California State University graduate or undergraduate students who are pursuing studies in rice.   The first award is planned for the 2000 Rice Field Day.  Donations in Dr. Brandon’s memory can be made to the fellowship through the Rice Research Trust, P.O. Box 306, Biggs, CA 95917.

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