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Fritz Meyer Retires After 35 Years at the Hudson Valley Lab

Frederick W. Meyer III, known to coworkers as “Fritz”, retired on 29 July after working for more than 35 years as a plant pathology technician at Cornell’s Hudson Valley Lab in Highland. Fritz was hired by Roger Pearson in 1974 and then continued his career working with Dave Rosenberger. Over the years, Fritz assisted with studies on the biology and epidemiology of rust diseases on apples, tomato ringspot virus in apple and plum orchards, black knot on plums, Fabraea leaf spot on pears, and Penicillium expansum in apple storages.

Fritz spent many hours each summer and fall conducting field and postharvest trials with apple fungicides. He applied the sprays, supervised data collection, conducted statistical analyses, and created data tables for publications. By the time he retired, Fritz had co-authored 12 refereed journal articles, 17 abstracts, 25 extension publications, and 192 technical reports on fungicide trials. The latter were published in Fungicide and Nematicide Tests and Plant Disease Management Reports.

Hudson Valley apple growers especially appreciated Fritz’s work in early spring when he conducted apple scab ascospore maturity counts. For the past three decades, those counts helped growers determine when to apply their first fungicide spray. His meticulous consistency with these microscopic assessments of spores in leaf litter provided a degree of certainty that allowed growers to safely eliminate one or two early-season sprays in years when ascospore maturity lagged behind apple tree phenology.

Casual acquaintances were often surprised to learn about Fritz’s other abilities and interests. At home he often prepared family meals. A skilled tailor, he made clothes for his four children in their early years, and he later sewed costumes for high school musicals where his children had roles. Fritz enjoys Broadway theater and the New York Metropolitan Opera, and he usually takes in several shows every year. If you ever play “Trivial Pursuit” opposite Fritz, you will want to avoid those categories!

Dave Rosenberger and other colleagues at the Hudson Valley Lab are already missing Fritz’s expertise and his 35 years of experience. However, that expertise is not totally lost since Fritz has agreed to come back to work on a part-time basis to assist with data collection and statistical analyses. For Fritz, the good part about retirement is that it will allow more time for attending shows in New York City. Even better, retirement has eliminated those frustrating early-morning hours of wrestling with balky spray equipment while the sun comes up over the Hudson Valley.

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