2012 Master Agronomist
Doug McMurtrey owns and operates a diversified crop and livestock production farm located in central Alfalfa County just west of the town of Cherokee. Doug’s crop production system includes wheat, grain sorghum, soybeans, alfalfa, and a variety of cover crops during the fallow periods. Doug is also involved in an extensive cow/calf operation.
Doug has worked with a host of OSU Research and Extension Specialists over the last 13 years. Doug has provided his land, labor, machinery, and expertise to help provide information to the agriculture producers across northwest Oklahoma. Doug has been one of the leaders in the no-till production systems in Alfalfa County and was one of the first cooperators to allow an OCES Specialist to utilize the rainmaker machines to evaluate the impacts of a simple raindrop and how damaging those raindrops can be when they come at a time when soils are vulnerable. From that simple project with Dr. Jim Stiegler, Doug’s willingness to help provide a location for learning exploded. In addition, since 2004 Doug has generously hosted several grain sorghum and soybean performance trials on his farm.
Doug and wife, Dawn, are very active in their community, belonging to the first Baptist Church of Cherokee. Doug was a member of the Alfalfa County Free Fair board, is on the Board of Directors of the Alfalfa County Soil Conservation District and a Board Member of the Alfalfa County Electric Cooperative.
Chester "Chet" L. Dewald
Chet Dewald was born in Vici, OK in 1934. He grew up on a small farm west of Woodward, OK and graduated from Tangier High School where he lettered in baseball, basketball and track. He received his Bachelors of Science in Agronomy with honors from Oklahoma State University in 1957. In 1959 he received his Masters of Science in Agronomy with honors from OSU.
He began his life long career as an Agronomist at the Stauffer Chemical Company, Agricultural Research Center in Mountain View, CA in 1959. He was promoted to Section Head in California and then in 1962 was asked to serve as the Field Representative for the Southwest Region of the United States in Houston, TX. In 1968 he became the Technical Director of Stauffer de Mexico, in Celaya, Guanajato, Mexico. After four years of leading successful research programs in Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina, he moved his family back to Oklahoma to establish his diversified family farming and ranching operation consisting of crops, cattle, swine, and horses. Two years later (1974) he accepted a position as an Agronomist with the United States Department of Agriculture, Ag Research Service in Woodward.
From 1978 to his passing in 2002 he continued to farm and ranch while serving as the Research Agronomist for the USDA-ARS and as Graduate Student Research Director for Oklahoma State University. As an ARS Scientist, Chet selected and released three Old World Bluestem grasses for use in the southern Great Plains. ‘WW-Spar’ Old World Bluestem is planted on more than three million acres of the southern Great Plains. ‘WW-Iron Master’ was planted on more than 12 million acres of iron deficient soils, and ‘WW-B-Dahl. His work and his collaboration with other professionals resulted in the creation of the ‘Woodward Flail-Vac seed Stripper’. His work resulted in five separate patents for chaffy grass seed handling equipment which is now manufactured, marketed and utilized worldwide.
Chet was honored by the USDA for scientific excellence on ten separate occasions. He received the prestigious “Trail Boss Award” in 1988 from the Kansas-Oklahoma Section of the Society for Range Management. He contributed to ten patents, three licensed cultivars, three public cultivars, and six Germplasm lines. He made significant contributions to the development of a number of grasses including many varieties of native grasses including Bluestems and Eastern Gamma Grass. After his passing the USDA-ARS honored him by naming and releasing ‘Chet’, an improved variety of sand bluestem. In small plot evaluations, ‘Chet’ produced an average of 7150 lbs/acre dry matter across several locations. This was 8.8% better than 'Woodward' sand bluestem, the current standard. In replicated grazing trials at the USDA-ARS Southern Plains Experimental Range near Ft. Supply, OK, the average daily gain of stocker cattle was 2.6 lbs/day over a 62 day grazing period. 'Chet' has proven to be an excellent forage grass that is well adapted to the Great Plains region.
He made numerous national and international presentations on his work and collaborative efforts and he wrote extensively about his research, the results of his research and the applicability of his work to the cow calf producer. He maintained a lifelong focus of conducting research to enhance productivity and profitability for producers.
He was a member of many society and organizations and was most proud of being a member of the Oklahoma State University Alumni. His wife of 48 years, Elaine passed away in 2006 and he is survived by his sons Greg, Bob, and Scott and his daughter Robin.