Long-time Rutgers professor and extension agent Dr. Mel Henninger was recognized with a Distinguished Service to Agriculture Citation by the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture during the virtual New Jersey State Agricultural Convention recently.
“Mel Henninger’s significant contributions to New Jersey agriculture have made major impacts on how we grow produce,” said New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher. “He is highly respected across the country for his in-depth knowledge of potatoes and the availability of his expertise, experience and insight to farmers here has heightened the Garden State’s production and agricultural reputation.”
Henninger graduated from Penn State University with a degree in agronomy and he returned there to earn his Masters and Ph.D. in agronomy. Before being a professor emeritus for the last 10 years at Rutgers, he spent 39 1/2 years of his career as an extension specialist in vegetable crops at Rutgers. His career included nine years as Department Chair.
“Working with my fellow Rutgers staff and agents for the farmers in New Jersey has allowed me to have a very rewarding and satisfying career,” Dr. Henninger said. “Being recognized by my clientele and knowing so many others who have received it before me is very special to me personally and something I will always cherish.”
On the national level, Henninger has been president and vice president of the Potato Association of America. He also is a former director of the New Jersey Agribusiness Association, has been a member of the American Society of Agronomy, The American Society of Horticulture Science, and the New Jersey Agricultural Society, among others.
His writings have been published in the American Journal of Potato Research, the American Potato Journal, the American Society for Horticultural Science, Crop Science, and others. Dr. Henninger’s research with white potatoes has included studies on spacing for maximum yield, and pest management. Other studies include pest control and storage for sweet potatoes, grafting tomatoes, and variety trials on other vegetables grown in our state.