Dr. Gerald A. Marx
When you say the name “Marx” most people think of
the author of Das Kapital or of the madcap brothers of stage and
screen. To seedspeople the name conjures a very different image—of
the man who assembled the greatest collection of pea germplasm in
the world, Dr. Gerald A. Marx (1930-1988).
Marx, a professor of Horticultural Sciences at Cornell University
for 29 years, also bred tomatoes, beets, carrots and winter squash
at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station at Geneva.
But his passion was peas.
A researcher, teacher and worldwide expert on the role of genes
in developmental morphology, Marx also was a founder of the Pisum
Genetics Association and edited its newsletter for 20 years.
Working with the major pea growers and processing companies, university
and USDA scientists, and seed companies, he incorporated new and
potentially valuable genes and linkages into breeding lines. He
increased the number of peas per pod, incorporated multiple disease
resistance to mildew and viruses, reduced the amount of foliage
on plants, and encouraged double and triple podding.
Although his career was cut short by illness, his breeding work
was prolific. During a dazzlingly successful period in the early
and mid-80s he released Olympia, Mayfair, Maestro and Knight shell
peas and Early Snap pea. Olympia, Maestro and Knight are widespread
in the trade. Since its introduction in 1982, we have sold more
than six tons of seed for #720 Maestro. We are offering #724 Knight
to commercial growers for the first time in this catalog. Mayfair,
perhaps the best of his varieties, has been unavailable in seed
catalogs since Agway dropped it in the early 90s. But we are planning
to bring it back to commerce so even more people can enjoy Marx’