A memorial tribute has been established by members of the current American Floral Endowment (AFE) board honoring August (Gus) De Hertogh, Ph.D., who passed away October 26, 2018, at the age of 83.
Dr. De Hertogh was an internationally renowned researcher and expert in the industry, specifically, revolutionizing forcing bulbs as pot crops on a global scale. He served as AFE’s first research coordinator from 1999 to 2014.
“Gus’s contributions to the bulb industry will never be forgotten. He guided the work of both students and faculty and shared his knowledge and expertise unselfishly with the floral industry throughout his life,” said AFE’s current research coordinator, Dr. Terril Nell.
De Hertogh was raised in Chicago and began his career in neighboring Michigan, at Michigan State University, in 1965. Here, he worked with Dutch exporters on tackling challenges with flower bulbs. At the time, it was not yet possible to effectively control the flowering of tulips or other bulbs following overseas shipment from The Netherlands, the world's largest producer. They began what is known as the Flower-Bulb Project, a collaborative effort between the Dutch Bulb Exporters Association and the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University. For the next 35 years, he would continue to research flower bulbs.
In 1978, De Hertogh relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina, where he would serve as the chairman of the Department of Horticulture Science at North Carolina State University for the next 10 years. All the while, continuing his research on flower bulbs. Throughout his time in the industry, he published many works including six books, 10 chapters in books, 50 popular articles, 44 refereed research publications, 19 research symposiums and articles, 28 extension publications, plus the additional writing and research he conducted for his master’s and doctorate degrees. This list includes the Holland Bulb Forcers Guide, which is considered the “bible” for bulb producers and forcers.
As research coordinator at AFE, De Hertogh helped to establish and oversee the most comprehensive research proposal review process in the industry. The four-step review process ensures that projects funded by AFE are relevant to the floriculture industry, carry the highest priority, are conducted by the leading scientists in their field, are fiscally responsible and meet or exceed AFE’s expectations.
“Serving on the Research Committee of AFE put me in direct contact with Gus. All I can say is we were very lucky to have him. Gus’s wealth of background, both as a researcher himself and as a department head (at NCSU) meant he knew how to do research and how to work with other researchers, and he was able to coach the Research Committee on what to expect from both perspectives,” said Marvin Miller, Ph.D., AFE trustee and market research manager at Ball Horticultural Company.
Throughout his career, De Hertogh received many notable recognitions for his work in the industry. These include Fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science; Medal of Honor, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, The Netherlands; Floriculture Hall of Fame Award and the Alex Laurie Research and Education Award from the Society of American Florists; the Nicolaas Dames Golden Medal, The Netherlands; the Teaching Award of the American Horticultural Society; the Innovator Award by North Carolina State University; the Gold Pin Award of Dutch Bulb Exporters Association; the Herbert Medal, International Bulb Society, Pasadena, California; and the naming of a hyacinth cultivar in his honor. The bulb industry gave him their highest of honors, the Silver Tulip Award.
Those who know him use the word “icon” to describe his impact on the floral industry.
De Hertogh is survived by his wife Mary Belle, children Mark, Michelle, Jennifer, Mary Moore, Susan, Jay; Grandchildren Mark, Lori Beth, Drew, Patrick, Aaron, Claire, Addison and great-granddaughter Caroline.
American Floral Endowment
c/o Gus De Hertogh Memorial Tribute
1001 N. Fairfax Street, Suite 201
Alexandria, VA 22314
Photo courtesy of the American Floral Endowment (AFE)