Tribute in Memory of Dr. Billy F. Moore

On Mon., Sep. 4, 2023, Mississippi farmers, especially soybean farmers, lost a true friend when Dr. Billy Moore passed away at the age of 85.

Born and raised in Alabama, Dr. Moore was a plant pathologist at Miss. State Univ. [MSU] from 1965-1992. From 1965 to 1972, Dr. Moore served as MSU’s first Extension Plant Pathologist. During this time, he 1) established Mississippi’s first plant disease clinic where producers could receive diagnostic services related to plant disease problems they encountered in their operations, and 2) established Mississippi’s first nematode laboratory for the detection of plant parasitic nematodes in submitted soil samples. From 1974 to 1992, Dr. Moore was the Leader of the MSU Extension Plant Pathology Dept., and developed and implemented statewide educational programs to inform producers about the identification and control of diseases in soybeans, rice, and corn.

From 1995 to 2004, Dr. Moore served as the Manager of the grower-funded Soybean Management and Research Technology Program [SMART]. In 2004, Dr. Moore became coordinator of the state’s effort to detect the presence of Asian soybean rust, trace its spread, and determine when and where soybean producers should apply a fungicide to prevent losses from this disease.

Until late-2019, he continued to travel throughout the state to provide plant pathology services to Mississippi farmers. As a part of this service, Dr. Moore had a contract with the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board [MSPB] to provide soybean disease diagnostic assistance to the state’s soybean growers and MSU researchers and Mississippi Coop. Ext. Service [MCES] personnel. One of the duties outlined in this contract with the MSPB was to provide advice and suggestions for the prevention and/or control of identified diseases in soybean fields across the state. Dr. Moore’s work in this regard provided an invaluable service to and for Mississippi soybean producers that complemented that of MCES personnel.

Dr. Moore’s plant pathology work and expertise were recognized by both peers and clients, as evidenced by his receiving the 1) Extension Workers Achievement Award from the Mississippi Assoc. of County Agents in 1975, 2) First Mississippi Corporation Foundation Award of Excellence in 1977, and 3) Southern Soybean Disease Workers Distinguished Service Award in 1981. In 2014, the MSPB unanimously voted to fully fund [including funds for the conduct of a 3-year research project] a 3-year Billy Moore Soybean Doctoral Fellowship in the MSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to honor Dr. Moore and thank him for his many significant contributions to the success of Mississippi soybean producers. The MSPB Billy Moore Soybean Doctoral Fellowship culminated in the graduation of a Ph.D. scientist who now works as a crop consultant in Mississippi.

Dr. Moore was a giant in the field of plant pathology. He was a friend and mentor to other scientists, and was always available to consult with and provide advice to soybean producers and colleagues who had soybean disease issues. I am proud and honored to have known him during his career, and always considered his counsel to be top-notch. He, along with his plant pathology expertise, will be sorely missed by all crop producers in the state of Mississippi.

Composed by Larry G. Heatherly, Sep. 2023,