Elver Hodges introduced improved forages and management techniques for pastures
Elver Hodges, who started working at the University of Florida Range Cattle Research and Education Center just before the U.S. entered World War II, plans to celebrate his 106th birthday with family and friends a few days before his Aug. 2 birthday.
An agronomy professor with the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences for 39 years, Hodges introduced improved forages and management techniques for pastures, focusing primarily on legumes and grasses.
“Elver Hodges is an icon in Florida’s beef ranching history,” said John Arthington, director of the UF/IFAS Range Cattle REC. “As the first forage professor at the Range Cattle REC, his work was instrumental in converting unimproved pastures into the productive forage systems that are common today.”
“His research on Pangolagrass and subsequent release to the ranchers of Florida, made a lasting impact on the advancement of Florida’s beef industry,” Arthington said. “Many years after his retirement, Dr. Hodges continues to be an active presence at the center. Through a generous endowment from Dr. Hodges and his family, his forage legacy continues through the promotion of research and Extension in this important area of study.”
The Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame inducted Hodges four years ago for his many accomplishments.
For instance, as part of the UF/IFAS livestock and forage program, Hodges helped develop forages such as Pangola digitgrass, Pensacola bahiagrass and star grasses. This forage improvement program revolutionized peninsular Florida beef production.
Hodges, known by many as “Doc,” was born Aug. 2, 1912 on the Sunshine Bottom family farm, in Nebraska, an area bordered on the north by the Missouri River and on the south by 500-foot bluffs.
The Hodges family raised corn, wheat, alfalfa and hogs. Lynch, Nebraska, 10 miles away, was the closest town by horse and buggy.
He then moved to Florida and served as an associate professor then professor with UF/IFAS at the Range Cattle REC from 1941 to 1980, retiring as a professor emeritus. Hodges then served as a professor in the U.S. Agency for International Development International Program to Malawi, 1980 to 1982.
Jim Handley, executive vice president of the Florida Cattlemen’s Association, called Hodges “a remarkable person who has had a tremendous impact on the cattle industry in Florida. It is a privilege to celebrate his 106th birthday and to thank him again for his more than 40 years of research, teaching and service to the Florida cattle industry.”
Friends of Hodges are invited to attend his birthday celebration at 2 p.m., July 29 at First United Methodist Church of Wauchula, 207 N. Seventh Ave., Wauchula.