Recently, Clemson University, along with other universities in the southeast and Midwest were included in a grant to research two prominent diseases in strawberries. Guido Schnabel, Plant Pathologist and Associate Professor at Clemson University:
“That grant was actually spearheaded by the University of Florida and led by Natalia Paris, another plant pathologist who is working on strawberry diseases in Florida, and she invited some other states to work with her on this project. Those states include North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio and Iowa.”
Schnabel outlines the two diseases that will be studied with the grant money:
“There’s two diseases that are being targeted, one is Gray Mold of Strawberry; it’s a disease that basically would pop up when you put a strawberry on the kitchen counter. There’s a gray lawn of spores then appearing on the strawberry and that gray looking fungus is called Gray Mold, it’s caused by a pathogen with the name Botrytis cinerea.
And the other one is anthracnose, which isn’t necessarily a problem every year, especially here in South Carolina, but when conditions are conducive, then this disease can cause a lot of problems, and it’s very hard to control with chemicals.”
The researchers are working on two projects. Schnabel outlines the first:
“We’re working on two different projects; one is to test a decision support system that was developed by the University of Florida. That Decision Support System will be will allow growers to extend or increase their spray interval, and that ultimately reduce the total number of pesticides applied.”
And the other:
“The other project that we’re working on is dealing with the sustainable use of reduced-risk fungicide. Implementing more and more the use of reduced risk fungicides and you’re spraying a much reduced amount, we’re talking about ounces per acre instead of pounds per acre. But these compounds are prone to resistance development.”
The results of this research, according to Schnabel, should be a win-win for both the producers and consumers:
“It makes the crop more profitable because the producer is spraying fewer pesticides, and also the residues on the fruit, of course, is less, which is good for the consumer, and also the environment is not as much affected.”
Guido Schnabel, Clemson University Plant Pathologist and Associate Professor.