‘Dr. Pepper’ honored at 40th anniversary of International Pepper Conference

Dr. Ben Villalon, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research professor emeritus, was honored recently for creating and maintaining the National Pepper Conference, an event that draws chile aficionados from throughout the world and is now known as the International Pepper Conference.

Villalon, nicknamed “Dr. Pepper”during his many years as a pepper breeder in South Texas, was presented a founders award at the event’s 40th anniversary held recently in Naples, Fla.

“The International Pepper Conference has come a long way since Dr. Villalon and Dr. Tom Zitter first tossed around the idea of holding a meeting to draw together researchers for the exchange of information and germplasm back in 1972,” said Gene McAvoy, a county Extension director in La Belle, Fla. and this year’s conference organizer.

“The International Pepper Conference has since emerged as the premier venue for the dissemination and exchange of information on capsicum,” he said.

Villalon, now retired, was at the time a plant virologist and pepper breeder at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco. Zitter was a plant pathologist in Belle Glade, Fla. The two were discussing viral diseases and breeding efforts of peppers during Villalon’s visit to Florida in 1972.

Source: today.agrilife.com

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