In memoriam: Kent Brittan
Brittan's career in crop research began with a fascination with bugs as a boy growing up in Bakersfield. Brittan studied insects at San Jose State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in biology in 1977. After graduation, Brittan joined UC Cooperative Extension as a staff research associate studying cotton at the USDA Cotton Research Station in Shafter until 1982. From 1983 to 1995, he worked with the vegetable crops specialist at UC Davis while attending graduate school.
In 1995, he earned a master's degree in vegetable crops at UC Davis and became a UC Cooperative Extension advisor for Sacramento County, later adding Yolo and Solano counties. He worked with growers on small grains, corn, safflower, canola and sunflower seed production and was instrumental in starting triticale grain production in Northern California. When local growers were losing over a million ears of corn to ear rot, he began screening the plant material and losses to the disease consequently dropped from 30 percent to less than 2 percent.
Brittan also evaluated potato varieties and shares a plant variety patent for a fresh white potato. He also evaluated tomato varieties to select those that make the finest tomato paste. In his retirement story, Brittan noted with pride, “There's a reason why California is a world leader, producing more than one-third of the tomato paste in the world, and UC Cooperative Extension is it.”
In retirement, Brittan remained involved in UC Cooperative Extension, doing research and giving talks to UC Master Gardeners.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on April 30 at Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, 27074 Patwin Rd, Davis CA 95616.
To read more about Brittan's career, see //ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=8875 and the Davis Enterprise.