Bhabesh Dutta, UGA Extension vegetable plant pathologist, and Shane Curry, Appling County Cooperative Extension agent, were honored by being named to the first class of Fruit and Vegetable 40 under 40 award winners during the recent Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference in Savannah. The 40 under 40 recognition was made by Great American Media Services, publishers of Fruit Growers News and Vegetable Growers News.
Since joining the vegetable pathology program at UGA-Tifton in 2012, Dutta has been part of multiple research projects that have impacted Georgia vegetable producers. He provides growers with management options for multiple fungal, bacterial and viral diseases in vegetables, as well as leading a national effort on center rot, an important bacterial disease of onions. Dutta also led a project to improve the management of botrytis leaf blight in onions through early- and late-season fungicide spraying.
Curry, who has worked in UGA Extension for 12 years, has participated in blueberry research that has helped propel Georgia to the top of the national rankings in blueberry production. Appling County, where Curry has worked for the past seven years, is the third-largest blueberry-producing county in Georgia.
Through research trials with UGA specialists in Appling County, Curry found that using soil fumigants and the addition of pine bark mulch when blueberry bushes have to be replanted helps to fight pests, especially nematodes, microscopic parasites that attack plant roots.
Curry also is part of a coordinated effort between Extension agents and specialists to research blueberry leaf rust, a foliar disease that causes small spots to appear on blueberry leaves.