An online, accredited, two-hour course, "Powdery Mildew Control in California Grapevines," is being offered by Western Farm Press and Dow AgroSciences for pest control advisers and all applicators licensed by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.

The approved course is now available at this Web site, www.westermfarmpress.com

Western Farm Press developed the course utilizing information developed by the University of California, Davis and highly respected UCD plant pathologist, Dr. Doug Gubler.

Dow AgroSciences is sponsoring the course, making it available free to all DPR licensees. It is accredited for two hours in the DPR "Other" category.

It is the second accredited course offered on the Western Farm Press Web site, and follows the April launch of a course on California’s new groundwater protection regulations. More than 150 California licensees have taken the one-hour credit course on groundwater laws and regulations.

Bob Gordon, senior marketing specialist, U.S. marketing, fungicides, for Dow AgroSciences spearheaded the online powdery mildew project.

"It’s something we’ve wanted to do for several years, and teaming up with Western Farm Press gave us the opportunity to achieve that goal," said Gordon.

"We were very pleased to work with Dow AgroSciences in launching this new online course," said Farm Press Publisher Greg Frey. "It reflects a commitment by Dow AgroSciences to the important Western agricultural market and the California grape market in particular."

Gordon is very familiar with the Western grape market. He worked for Rohm and Haas in Fresno as a marketing specialist for seven years and prior to that directed the launch of Goal herbicide in the tree and vine markets.

Subject selection

The subject of powdery mildew was selected by Gordon to coincide with the launch of Dow AgroSciences’ new powdery mildew fungicide, Quintec, which represents a new mode of action for controlling the No. 1 disease pest in California grapevines.

"I believe anytime a new molecule is introduced into a pest management market, it is time for PCAs, applicators and growers to step back and evaluate their powdery mildew program with a review of the basics of disease management," said Gordon.

"It is important to go back to those basics and fit the pieces together to determine how best to utilize available tools in their systems. That’s what this course offers — plus the latest in technical information about disease management.

Gordon said powdery mildew management can’t be done with a one-program-fits-all approach. "Each variety is different within the many growing regions of the state, and one of the keys to controlling powdery mildew is resistance management by rotating products to maintain efficacy of all the fungicides now available."

Resistance management is a major part of the 10,000-word, 20-question course.

Modeling has also become an important part of powdery mildew control. The University of California Risk Assessment Index and other private models are increasingly being used to not only trigger a powdery mildew control program, but to best space treatment intervals for good control at minimal costs.

How to utilize these models is also part of the course developed by the Western Farm Press staff. All the course material was reviewed by Dr. Gubler.

"Dr. Gubler was a tremendous help in providing guidance and reviewing the material we compiled. He is the leading expert in California on powdery mildew control in grapevines, and we are grateful that he took the time to work with Western Farm Press to make this online resource possible," said Frey.

Western Farm Press will soon launch a third online course, followed by the introduction of Farm Press University online at the October 30th annual meeting of the California Association of Pest Control Advisers in Anaheim, Calif.

These online courses are designed to help busy pest control advisers and others licensed by DPR meet continuing education and certification requirements, while at the same time providing them with the latest information on key topics and issues.

"A couple of years ago we were a society of pen, pencils and paper and 8-to-5 schedules," says Gordon, himself a PCA. "That is obviously no longer the case, and we need to have the ability to access information on our schedules."

Provides flexibility

The Western Farm Press online courses offer the flexibility PCAs need, he says.

"We can’t always sit down for 4 hours in a meeting room to gain the credits we need to maintain our licenses," says Gordon. "We must have greater flexibility to manage our schedules rather than having our schedules manage us."

Gordon says he is proud of the course developed by Western Farm Press.

"It is an excellent piece of work, and we at Dow AgroSciences are pleased to sponsor it for PCAs and others who work in the California grape market. The quality of the material is reflected in the fact the DPR approved it for two-hours of credit. That is significant."

The course is simple to navigate. A DPR licensee reads through several sections of texts and then answers a series of questions. Each question must be answered correctly to proceed through the course.

Once the course is completed online, a certificate page appears, which can be completed and e-mailed or sent by regular mail to Western Farm Press. An attendance sheet and certification are then provided to the DPR, which issues the CEU credit to the individual licensee’s account.

e-mail: hcline@primediabusiness.com