Dr. Teddy E. Morelock
Known as the “King of Spinach” by his friends and colleagues in the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, the late Teddy Morelock was one of the nation’s premier vegetable breeders and his expertise on fresh spinach and southern peas is recognized internationally.
Born in Fayetteville, Morelock graduated from Greenland High School. He obtained B.S.A. and M.S. degrees in horticulture from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and a doctorate degree in plant breeding from the University of Wisconsin. He joined the UA faculty as assistant professor in the horticulture department in 1974 and was promoted to university professor status in 2007. He served in this capacity until his death in April 2009.
Morelock’s major research contributions involved the development and introduction of six spinach and 13 southern pea varieties, in addition to turnip, mustard and collard green varieties. His breeding programs provided vital support to the state, national and international vegetable production and seed industries. The processed and fresh market spinach and southern pea industries are dependent on genetics developed by Morelock. For more than 20 years his spinach program was the only public-sector breeding program in the United States. For his efforts he received the American Society of Horticultural Sciences Distinguished Researcher Award. Morelock served on numerous university committees and grant-writing teams, which generated nearly $3.5 million for the U of A.
His time wasn’t all dedicated to research projects. Morelock was also an avid Angus breeder. For 20 years he and his wife Jane, who passed away in 1999, were instrumental in organizing events, shows and programs for young people who showed angus cattle. They became advisors in 1981 and in 2001 the National Junior Angus Association honored the Morelocks as its “Advisors of the Year” for their support for and positive influence on the lives of countless youth in the angus industry. Additionally, Morelock served as Arkansas Angus Association president and director and developed the “Exhibitor of the Year” award.