Extension Small Grains and Canola Pathologist
Dr. Madeleine Smith, based at NWROC in Crookston, was hired as an extension specialist in 2012 to address diseases on small grains and canola. She focuses on new and emerging diseases as well as reviewing management practices for diseases already common in the state.
For small grains, the main focus of her work is on Fusarium head blight, tan spot, Septoria spot blotch, and leaf rust. In the last few years, bacterial leaf streak has become more prevalent and damaging in Minnesota. Teaching growers to recognize this disease is important, as the only tool for disease management is varieties that are less susceptible to the bacteria.
Madeleine’s extension program also covers the entire state. Through January and February she will typically attend 13 grower meetings organized by Extension and the commodity groups. These provide an opportunity to both review situations that arose in the previous growing season as well as updating growers on the latest research. In the summer, she gives 6 or 7 crop updates to various stakeholders at on-farm research sites around the state. These provide the growers an opportunity to hear about diseases that they should be on the lookout for in a particular growing season. The growers are also educated on how to scout for and manage various diseases. Madeline is also involved in large educational events, such as a 2-day field school, aimed at training agricultural professionals through the Institute for Agricultural Professionals. The field schools allow Extension faculty to share information during the training of professionals who, in turn, will act as informational multipliers, taking what they have learned and passing it on to the growers they serve. In addition to hands on and face to face educational opportunities, Madeleine uses radio, websites and other media to keep growers and producers up to date. These activities are at their peak during the growing season. Madeleine regularly posts the results of disease surveys to the university crop blog and the Minnesota Crop E News. She also keeps the current Fusarium head blight (scab) disease situation up to date by posting new feeds to the US Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative website as well as to commodity group websites. This coming summer, Madeleine hopes to start a new hands-on disease session at Crookston as part of the NWROC field day. This session aims to give growers hands-on experience with identifying and scoring disease severity and incidence. All of these activities are critical to delivering research-based information to help growers make informed decisions in their farming operations.