New app helps strawberry and peach growers manage diseases

Strawberry growers have a direct line to help for and information about diseases with the new MyIPM app, developed by researchers at Clemson University.

The idea for the app grew out of a previous series of USDA-NIFA Southern Regional IPM grant- funded projects that provided peach and strawberry growers with monitoring tools for fungicide-resistant plant pathogens. The online tool for strawberries gave growers alternatives for managing fungicide-resistant Botrytis. Subsequent surveys showed that the program saved growers about 10 percent of their yield.

However, Botrytis is not the only pest management issue that strawberry growers face, so Clemson University plant pathologist Guido Schnabel set out to give growers a “one-stop shopping” place where they could access all of the resources they might need for disease management. Beginning with strawberries and their diseases, Schnabel intended MyIPM to contain disease information for a variety of fruit crops. In fact, with the help of other experts, he was able to add peach diseases to the app before it was released to the public.

My IPM app

My IPM app

Released in early January 2015, the MyIPM app features about a dozen of the most important diseases of strawberries and peaches. For each disease there are pictures of signs and symptoms, descriptions of the causal agent and a 2-minute audio presentation from the regional specialist. Both conventional and organic growers can access chemical and biological control options. The app provides a color-coded key to help separate active ingredients belonging to different classes of fungicides and to help growers navigate resistance issues.

“Growers will be able to pick effective and safe fungicides for conventional and organic production of strawberry,” Schnabel told Southeast Farm Press editors in January. “The app will in a nutshell tell you with audio, pictures, interactive tables, and text what you need to know about a particular disease and its management. I think it is an awesome supplement to our spray guide.”

Since January, MyIPM has been downloaded 505 times by Android users and 285 times by iOS users inside and outside the U.S., including in Spain and the United Kingdom.

Although only a few users have rated the app, ratings have been very positive so far, averaging 4.25 out of 5 stars.

Schnabel is now being encouraged by specialists to begin adding more fruit crops and more IPM issues, including arthropods, so he will soon be heading toward phase 2 of the long-term project.

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