Curtis Petzoldt, assistant director of the NYS IPM Program and vegetable IPM coordinator for the state, is rarely content with the status quo. With one foot in a cabbage field and the other in the future, he encourages practices that change the ways farmers and consumers do business.
In 1996, Petzoldt and area IPM educator Timothy Weigle founded the Northeast Weather Association, a nonprofit membership organization that provides growers with timely weather data and pest forecasts. The specific information helps producers determine when diseases and insects need to be controlled, and whether sprays can be delayed or eliminated. Says Petzoldt, "Membership in the Northeast Weather Association grew 56 percent between the first and second year. In the coming year, we will offer weather-based pest and crop models for producers of ornamentals and field crops."
In 1997, Petzoldt and his colleagues sought to manage European corn borer on fresh-market sweet corn by releasing microscopic beneficial wasps and applying Bt (a biological insecticide). With these practices, they averted up to three applications of chemical pesticides and achieved marketable quality corn. This research is part of a multi-year interdisciplinary project comparing four vegetable growing systems (conventional, IPM present, IPM future, and organic) to assess which practices can be incorporated into present and future cropping systems. Anthony Shelton, associate director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, says "Petzoldt has doggedly pursued the development of IPM for vegetables and other crops. He is widely respected by those who work with him, not only in New York, but also nationally."
In 1998, Petzoldt will take part in national meetings that focus not only on IPM labeling of foods, but how labeling could cross state lines. The New York State IPM Program, with Petzoldt at the helm, has responded to private sector demands for IPM-grown products for several years. Wegmans Food Markets, for example, now carries nearly 14 kinds of vegetables with the NYS IPM label. Petzoldt has worked for more than a decade with growers, private consultants, and private industry to develop IPM guidelines, enabling crops to be grown in ways that are economically and environmentally sound.
Prior to joining the IPM Program in 1985, Petzoldt was a representative for Lilly Research Laboratories and Elanco Products. He holds an M.S. and a Ph.D. in plant pathology from the University of California (Davis) and a B.A. in biology from Bates College.