Story and Photos by Beth Ann Luedeker
Dr. Seth Murray, Texas A&M Soil and Crop Sciences Associate Professor and Butler Chair, primarily focuses his research on improving the
productivity, sustainability and quality of agriculture production through scientific research; most of his work is in corn (maize).
He has recently branched out, slightly, to help his graduate student, Rob Arnold, search for the ideal Texas-grown corn for the production of whiskey.
Arnold, who is working on his doctoral degree in Plant Breeding under Murray, is also the head distiller for Firestone & Robertson Distilling Company, of Fort Worth. Through controlled plant breeding, he and Murray are trying to develop Texas-grown corn varieties with distinctive and identifiable flavors to use in the production of whiskey.
Research is being conducted on non-GMO varieties of corn at the Texas A&M Farm outside College Station. Seed from selected varieties of corn are planted and hand-pollinated to control the genetics of each ear.
Reuters recently wrote and article and created a video about these men, the distillery and Texas whiskey. It can be found at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-texas-whiskey/fields-of-dreams-texas-researchers-seek-to-redefine-u-s-whiskey-idUSKBN1JD09C
“Despite being less than 1% of my research program, the amount of press interest this generated blew me away, from KBTX to the Eagle to NPR and the New York Times,” Murray said. “I found that colleagues at other institutions had similar experiences with their beer and wine related breeding and genetics.”
“I also learned there are opportunities to change the conversation if you are prepared,” he said. “I have interjected the importance of science, of public sector research, and the great things Texas A&M is doing every chance I got!”