Partnering in plant health: Improving our understanding of fruit tree diseases in Kansas

Progress report for ONC20-074

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2020: $39,583.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Kansas State University
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Megan Kennelly
Kansas State University
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Project Information


This project will enhance knowledge of fruit production problems in Kansas while strengthening relationships between growers and Kansas State University/K-State Research and Extension. A group of growers have identified several fruit tree production problems as critical areas for research and extension. The central Great Plains is a challenging environment for fruit production due to weather extremes which drive abiotic stresses, disease problems, and insect pressure. The overall goal of this partnership is to increase our understanding of fruit tree disease development in Kansas to develop sustainable disease management strategies. A prime case study will be the apple disease fire blight, but we will gather data on other fruit tree diseases as well as environmental stresses and insect pests. The project will integrate aspects of research, education, and outreach and will provide growers training with data collection. The project will have short-term impact by increasing knowledge of the grower/university team of current disease/pest development and disease losses, and training growers on some data assessment methods. In the medium term we will share findings with other growers, prioritize and and plan for additional research and extension programs, and build collaborations. Long term the project will lead to more sustainable management practices.

Project Objectives:

The overall goal of this partnership program is to increase our understanding of fruit tree disease development and insect pests in Kansas to optimize sustainable management strategies. Our specific objectives are: to quantify losses in tree fruit crop yield and quality due to diseases and insects with a special focus on fire blight of apple, explore relationships between current grower practices and disease and insect development in light of Kansas weather conditions, train growers in on-farm disease and insect assessment, share information with industry, and establish a solid foundation to prioritize future extension and research programs and collaborations.


Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Travos Carmichael (Educator)


Materials and methods:

As noted in the proposal, these growers agreed to participate.

The project could not be conducted in 2020. Over the past couple of months we have been working on plans for 2021 and will contact the growers soon for the 2021 growing season plans:

Mike Gerhardt, Pome On The Range Orchards and Winery LLC, Franklin County
Gabe Spurgeon, South Baldwin Farm LLC, Douglas County
Rex Rees, Rees Fruit Farm, Shawnee County
Tom Brown, Meadowlark Farm, Butler County
Frank Gieringer, Gieringers Family Orchard & Berry Farm, Johnson County
Bob Karr, The Karr Orchard, Lyon County

Research results and discussion:

2020 goals could not be accomplished because of the covid19 pandemic

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

2020 goals could not be met due to covid19 situation

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

2020 goals could not be met due to covid19 pandemic

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.