Dr. Lena Smithers Hughes

/Dr. Lena Smithers Hughes

Dr. Lena Smithers Hughes (1905-1987)

Inducted 1993

Highlights

Hughes was the first woman to serve on the Orange Citrus Extension Advisory Committee, the Growers Administrative Committee, and the fund-raising committee for the Ben Hill Griffin, Jr. Hall at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred. Mrs. Hughes spent considerable time and sums of money to continue the development of the Hughes Valencia orange budwood strain, which now accounts for approximately half of all Florida Valencia Oranges planted since 1973.

Orange Citrus Extension Advisory Committee

Growers Administrative Committee

Lake Alfred Citrus Research & Education Center

Hughes Valencia Orange Budwood Strand

Bio

A native of Tennessee, Lena Smithers Hughes earned degrees from the University of Tennessee and Wayne State University. Before moving to Florida in the 1950s, she taught school in several northern states while her husband, Dr. A. E. Hughes as research chemist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Research. Hughes and her husband saw a need for improving two citrus strains. Together they planted a block of Nucellar Parson Brown and Nucellar Valencia seedlings. Her husband passed away in 1944, yet she still managed the seedlings. Eventually moving to Orlando in 1957, she would later conduct valuable horticultural research to improve breeding strains of Valencia oranges.

As a woman in a field generally associated with men, Hughes enjoyed several “firsts.” She was the first woman to serve on the Orange Citrus Extension Advisory Committee (serving ten years). She was also the first woman to serve on the Growers Administrative Committee and was the only woman to serve on the fund-raising committee for the Ben Hill Griffin, Jr. Hall at the Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred.

Mrs. Hughes spent considerable time and sums of money to continue the development of the Hughes Valencia orange budwood strain, which now accounts for approximately half of all Florida Valencia Oranges planted since 1973. In the 1982-83 citrus season, the Hughes Nucellar Valencia bud line accounted for 60 percent of all Valencia’s propagated in Florida. In 1984, she was inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame, and in 1986 she was inducted into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame.

She provided horticultural scholarships to the University of Florida and Florida Southern College. These scholarships were funded by the proceeds from the sales of the Hughes Valencia budwood. Ultimately, though, it is the millions of people who drink high-quality Valencia orange juice every day who have received the greatest benefit from Mrs. Hughes’s dedication.