FDA resumes food safety inspections

As the government shutdown continues, FDA is calling its food safety inspection staff back in, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated in a series of posts on Twitter.

“We restarting high-risk food inspections as early as tomorrow,” Gottlieb said in the Jan. 15 tweet. “We’ll also do compounding inspections this week. And we started sampling high-risk imported produce in the northeast region today. We’ll expand our footprint as the week progresses.”

The inspectors are “largely going unpaid,” Gottlieb wrote. He praised their dedication for coming back to work.

Reactions to Dr. Gottlieb’s tweets largely fell into two camps. Some thanked him for restarting food safety inspections. Most, however, took the opportunity to comment on the shutdown and food safety inspections in general.

Here’s a sampling:

“Perhaps they can survive by stealing bites of the food they inspect, even slip some into their pockets for their kids.” — Catherine Devlin, ‏@catherinedevlin

“Since nobody has gotten sick, maybe it’s worth considering that these ‘inspections’ are more theatrics than an actual useful activity. Gosh, how self-important you folks at FDA seem to be.” — Dead Vape Shop, ‏@fatcatvapor

“Last year, lettuce killed more Americans than undocumented immigrants; so it’s a good thing we’re halting food inspections over a wall that won’t work.” — Ally Maynard @missmayn

Carol Miller is Editor of American Vegetable Grower^p

United Phosphorus Inc.’s new name

United Phosphorus Inc. (UPI), the North American arm of global crop protection manufacturer and supplier UPL, has a new name. As of Jan. 1, UPI became UPL NA Inc. “The new brand name for the North America business more accurately reflects the global corporate identity,” stated Manish Sirohi, Director, Strategy and Innovation, in a prepared news release. “The change aligns our business with our corporate parent and their subsidiaries around the world.”

UPL has a presence in more than 130 countries with 33 manufacturing and formulation facilities in 11 different countries. According to Sirohi, the company has invested in R&D activities that have led to the global launch of more than 100 new products in the past two years.

For more information, visit upi-usa.com.

Paul Rusnak is the Senior Managing Online Editor of Florida Grower, American Vegetable Grower, American Fruit Grower, and Greenhouse Grower magazines^p

Cornell viticulture innovator recognized

Alice Wise, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County Viticulture and Research Specialist, recently received an Excellence in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYSIPM). Wise received her award at the Long Island Agriculture Forum.

After a tenure of more than 25 years, Wise’s contribution to the wine and grape industry of Long Island is substantial and varied. The main focus of her IPM work has been to provide growers with information and best practices to reduce and optimize the use of pesticides. Wise has conducted research on under-trellis weed management, focusing on cover crop care, with the goal of decreasing the need for chemical use. She has promoted the deployment of netting to protect the grapes from migrating flocks of birds and studied the effectiveness of leaf-pulling as a way to prevent cluster rots. She has also monitored the emergence and development of grapevine viruses.

Wise manages a 2.5-acre research vineyard where she conducts variety trials in pursuit of desirable traits like disease resistance. She shares her evaluation of vine performance and fruit quality with wine growers and contributes to multi-year studies on the topic. Her work has allowed growers to reduce their applications of pesticide while still producing high-quality grapes for use in their winemaking.

Wise also conducts research in commercial vineyards on the role of mealybugs and fruit scale in the distribution of the leafroll virus. Through a project funded by NY Farm Viability Institute, Wise scouts vineyards every other week for hot spots and provides growers with row-by-row information on the unwanted pests, allowing them to target their pesticide applications more specifically.

Wise helped to develop guidelines and regulations for Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing (LISW), the only third-party certified program for vineyards on the East Coast.

Christina Herrick is the Senior Editor of American Fruit Grower magazine and Western Fruit Grower magazine^p

Watch out for tomato mold

Sclerotinia white mold on tomato is caused by Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. S. sclerotiorum has a wide host range, attacking more than 170 species. This disease affects a number of economically important vegetable crops including beans, cabbage, lettuce, and pepper.

In tomato, the disease is also known as timber rot. Primary infections usually occur on flowers and succulent tissues. The spores go through a saprophytic growth stage on senescent flowers before initiating further infection. Initial infection of the pathogen is on tissues within the plant canopy, often near the base of the stem at the soil line.


Pale or dark-brown, water-soaked lesions form on flowers and at stem joints where senescent flower petals have fallen. Bleached areas and watery, soft rots form on the stems and leaf axils, and then wet, fluffy white mold develops inside and outside the plant tissue. The soft, watery rots on the stems eventually become dry and brittle, which leads to girdling. The pathogen also can attack at the base of the stem causing the plants to wilt and die.

As infected tissue decays, hard, black, irregularly shaped resting structures called sclerotia form on the inside and outside of decaying tissue. Stems are frequently hollowed out by the fungus leaving a papery shell to cover numerous sclerotia.

Survival and spread

Sclerotinia sclerotiorum can remain dormant in the soil for five years or more as hard, black sclerotia and require a conditioning period of cool temperatures before they can germinate and form apothecia—cup-shaped fruiting bodies. The pale, brownish-yellow apothecia form just above the soil line and produce ascospores that spread through moving water, wind, plant debris, and workers.

The pathogen favors temperatures from 59°F to 70°F, and nighttime temperatures of 60°F. Sixteen to 72 hours of continuous wetness and high humidity is favorable for spore infection. Once the disease cycle is complete, spores are not produced again until the next season.

Management methods

Effective management of white mold requires an integrated disease management approach. The disease is controlled primarily through the use of cultural practices and foliar fungicides.

Scouting is important for early detection once plants begin flowering. Cultural practices, such as destruction of infected plant debris, eradication of weed hosts, and crop rotation with non-susceptible hosts like corn, will help reduce disease in subsequent plantings.

Consult UF/IFAS recommendations for currently labeled fungicides for sclerotinia control in Florida tomato.

Gene McAvoy is a UF/IFAS Hendry County Extension agent based in LaBelle^p

Very berry good berries

A recent survey of U.S. blueberry growers show they believe the berries are going to need firmer texture and better flavor, and those should be priorities for breeders, even more so than making them easier to grow.

The survey serves as the basis for a project, “Vaccinium CAP: Leveraging genetic and genomic resources to enable development of improved blueberry and cranberry cultivars to growers and consumers,” which is under consideration for a USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI) grant. The overall objective of the project is to develop DNA-based tools to select and efficiently deliver cultivars with improved fruit texture, appearance (size), and metabolite composition and that can improve machine harvest efficiency and extend shelf life. This project represents a continuation of a planning grant funded by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

While the survey focused on blueberries, the project would include cranberries, another of the very few fruit crops native to North America. Firmness is certainly the tops for both crops, especially blueberries.

David Eddy is the editor of Meister Media Worldwide’s American Fruit Grower® and Western Fruit Grower® magazines^p


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