Editor’s Note: A Recent Collaborative Effort Between Clemson and UF

Mutant strains of peach anthracnose can mean big problems for growers.  These diseases can be difficult to control with standard pesticides like Abound, Topsin M, Scala, and others.  Researchers at Clemson University, including Dr. Guido Schnabel, are not going to let pathogens get the best of growers though.  They have been testing the efficacy of fungicides to determine how best to control new diseases as they crop up.  This research helps determine when Inspire Super or Orbit is the best pesticide to use, or if you should mix Orbit with Inspire Super.

Dr. Schnabel has over 20 years of experience with Clemson University as a plant pathologist, specializing in managing diseases of small fruits and stone fruits.  His work includes basic research and applied research, and he has helped create a smartphone app called MyIPM that aids fruit growers in the diagnosis of diseases in the field, enabling the appropriate treatment to begin without delay.

Sometimes prevention is the best medicine, and researchers like Dr. Schnabel recognize that.  Pathogens are less likely to show pesticide resistance if their exposure to such chemicals is limited.  To that end, Dr. Schnabel has been working on a cooperative project with Dr. Natalia Peres from the University of Florida and her research team.  Reduced use of pesticides in the nurseries can increase their effectiveness in the fields.

Drs. Schnabel and Peres are working together to find alternative methods of pathogen control on strawberry plants in nurseries.  Application of steam and UVC light are two treatments that work very well at killing fungi without causing chemical resistance.  The big challenge is finding a way to make these treatments effective and available on the large scale that nurseries require.

Though this research project involves strawberries, the results will have an impact on other agricultural industries as well.  Refining alternative techniques for controlling disease will help growers treat and prevent disease more effectively, using less chemicals in the long run.  When the right alternative method is found, less chemicals can mean lower monetary investment plus lower environmental impact, and that’s good news for everyone.  To read more about this collaborative effort between Clemson University’s Peach Team member, Dr. Guido Schnabel and the University of Florida’s research team, including Dr. Natalie Peres, click here.