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McGrath travels to China to share insights on cucurbit disease management

McGrath (front row near center) at Zhengzhou Fruit Research Institute.

McGrath (front row near center) at Zhengzhou Fruit Research Institute.

From Discovery that Connects, news from the School of Integrative Plant Science:

SIPS plant pathologist Meg McGrath recently was invited to the Zhengzhou Fruit Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, in Henan Province, China, to give a seminar, meet with students, and visit farms.  Her 2-hour seminar on “30 Years of Research Helping Farmers Manage Diseases of Cucurbits” was followed by short presentations by Chinese researchers for a “Melon and Watermelon Training Session”.

The focus of McGrath’s talk was powdery mildew, an important disease in China as well as the US. She described her research investigating occurrence and impact of fungicide resistance, a major challenge to effectively managing this disease. An important outcome of this research is detection of pathogen isolates with resistance to multiple fungicide chemistries. Unlikelihood of their development is the premise behind the standard recommendation to alternate among fungicide chemistries to manage resistance. She also covered her research on evaluating resistant cultivars and monitoring pathogen race occurrence. Research on managing downy mildew and Phytophthora blight were also presented.

Several virus diseases are plaguing melon crops in China, which McGrath learned about during farm visits.

McGrath is an Associate Professor in the SIPS Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section. Located at the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center (LIHREC) in Riverhead Long Island, her research and extension activities are focused on managing diseases affecting vegetables grown on Long Island within organic and conventional production systems.

McGrath speaks at Mexican conference on disease management in vegetables

mcgrathReposted from Discovery that Connects, School of Integrative Plant Science blog.

SIPS plant pathologist Meg McGrath recently spoke with researchers, students, and producers at the 3rd International Congress on Plant Protection in Vegetablesheld in Guadalajara Mexico.  The focus of the Congress is communication of current technologies for diagnosis and integrated management of pests and diseases in horticultural crops to producers, technicians in agrochemical companies, and those responsible for different production systems.

In her talk, “Resistance to fungicides in vegetable pathogens: current situation and strategies for managing”, McGrath emphasized the importance of resistance management – specifically through monitoring and delaying development of resistance by rotating chemistries. Multi-fungicide resistance remains a constant concern, exemplified by cucurbit powdery mildew isolates present on Long Island that are resistant to 6 different fungicide chemistries.

In organic agriculture, disease management relies on an integrated program incorporating the latest understanding of pathogen biology and disease cycles. In her talk, “Options for organic management of diseases in vegetable crops”, McGrath focused on the range of biopesticides now available as alternatives to copper fungicides, the types of active ingredient on which they rely (microbial and naturally-occurring), and where to find information on product efficacy and approved for organic production in the USA.

McGrath is an Associate Professor in the SIPS Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section. Located at the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center (LIHREC) in Riverhead Long Island, her research and extension activities are focused on managing diseases affecting vegetables grown on Long Island within organic and conventional production systems.

Curiosity and expertise earn Excellence in IPM award for Cornell ‘pumpkin whisperer’

'Pumpkin whisperer' checks in with her 1,872-pound patient.

‘Pumpkin whisperer’ checks in with her 1,872-pound patient.

NYSIPM program news release:

Meg McGrath, a Cornell University plant pathologist based at the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center, is an internationally recognized researcher, sought-after speaker, and well-versed in the solutions to devastating plant diseases.

And for growers with trouble on their hands, she’s available at a moment’s notice.

These qualities and more have earned McGrath an Excellence in IPM award from Cornell University’s New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYS IPM).

McGrath’s expertise spans the gamut of IPM strategies and tactics that both organic and conventional growers use to combat disease pests such as late blight and downy mildew. “Meg embraced the concepts of integrated pest management from the beginning of her career,” says colleague Margery Daughtrey. “She does a splendid job of bringing her discoveries to the practical level for growers in dozens of presentations annually.”

But it’s her help in the field that farmers value the most — help that’s delivered with a welcome dose of levity. “Meg’s funny,” says Marilee Foster at Foster’s Farm in Sagponack. “She’ll say ‘I’m sorry, I’m a plant pathologist. I like to study sick plants.’” When a nearby outbreak of late blight threatened Foster’s organic heirloom tomatoes, Meg came to help scout — “arriving early so we’d have the visual benefit of dew,” Foster says.

When they found a handful of plants with symptoms, McGrath reviewed Foster’s alternatives, but none were suited for organic crops. The strategy they hit on together? Using a handheld weed-flamer to take down suspect plants. “Blight can’t handle temperatures much above eighty degrees,” Meg told Foster. “And it might feel good!”  Which, Foster agrees, it did.

Meg focuses on core IPM principles — principles such as careful identification so you don’t treat a disease the wrong way, or changing a crop’s environment to outsmart its pathogens. “She helps Long Island growers deal with the limited availability of products they can use to manage pests, given the island’s heightened groundwater concerns,” says Jennifer Grant, director, NYS IPM. “It’s not every day you find someone who brings such warmth and knowledge to a position that means so much to so many farmers’ livelihood.”

Marilee Foster echoes that. “I have long admired the energy and curiosity Meg brings to farmers in eastern Long Island. We are lucky to have her working with us, for everyone.”

McGrath received her award on January 18 at the 2017 Empire State Producers Expo in Syracuse, New York. Learn more about integrated pest management at nysipm.cornell.edu.

More information:

Podcast: What’s wrong with my tomatoes? with Meg McGrath

Meg McGrath

Meg McGrath

Meg McGrath, vegetable pathologist based at the Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center, talked with Margaret Roach about tomato troubles on Roach’s popular A Way to Garden podcast.

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