Clemson Extension specialist receives national honor
CLEMSON — Clemson University fruit specialist Guido Schnabel earned national recognition for helping fruit growers across the East Coast manage disease.
The American Phytopathological Society will award Schnabel its annual Excellence in Extension award at a ceremony in August in Pasadana, California. This award recognizes one professional from the nationwide Cooperative Extension Service each year for excellence in plant pathology.
“Guido has been exceptionally productive as a research scientist and investigated the molecular basis of fungicide resistance. However, his heart has always been with the applicability of his work and its practical use to producers,” said Natalia Peres, an associate professor at the University of Florida who nominated Schnabel for the award.
Schnabel and Peres work together on a multiple-university research collaborative led by the University of Florida and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative. As part of that effort, Schnabel launched an innovative program in 2010 that gives fruit growers throughout the Southeast tailored steps to combating fungicide resistance.
A plant pathologist and professor of agricultural and environmental sciences at Clemson, Schnabel discovered gray mold fungus had become resistant to fungicides. Growers were experiencing different levels of resistance based on where they purchased plants or how they had applied pesticides in the past.
One size did not fit all when it came to disease management, so Schnabel created a resistance-management program that allows growers from Pennsylvania to Georgia to submit pathogens to Clemson to be analyzed. After receiving flower samples, Schnabel responds in eight days with a location-specific management plan for each grower.
“Nobody wants to spray and spend money on pesticides that do not work,” he said. “Growers are much more conscientious now about spraying than they were in the past.”
In addition to helping fruit growers produce profitable yields, the project provides Clemson access to genotypes that, in some cases, have not been analyzed. The research on these samples can have great benefits for future disease management.
“This is a great example of how research and Extension work together for the benefit of the science and the benefit of the grower,” Schnabel said.
Schnabel’s adaptation of new technologies has greatly simplified disease management for growers. Among his projects, for example, Schnabel led a team to create a smartphone app for providing critical disease information for strawberry and peach producers. The MyIPM app helps growers pick effective and safe fungicides using audio, pictures and text about particular diseases and their management.
Cooperative Extension is a nationwide service intended to boost economic development and quality of life by equipping communities with cutting-edge research and education.
In addition to his national recognition from the American Phytopathological Society, Schnabel is the 2015 recipient of the Godley-Snell Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research, Clemson University’s highest agricultural honor.
Read what the American Phytopathological Society had to say about Schnabel’s work here.