Franklin Laemmlen, county director and vegetable/pest management advisor for Santa Barbara County, retired Aug. 1 after a 25-year career with the University of California Cooperative Extension.
In 1980, Laemmlen joined UCCE Imperial County as the plant pathology farm advisor for the desert counties. In 1992, he transferred to become the vegetables/pest management advisor for Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. He added the county director responsibilities in 1999.
While working in the Imperial Valley, he identified downy mildew growing on melon leaves, which was uncommon in the desert. By getting the field treated immediately and getting the information out to growers, Laemmlen says, “We probably saved the valley growers millions of dollars.”
“Pathology was the area in which he was most helpful,” says Daren Gee, owner of DB Specialty Farms. The Santa Maria strawberry grower credits Laemmlen with helping growers and fungicide manufacturers by doing comparisons of new and registered products on different strawberry varieties.
Over the last 8 years, Laemmlen and UC Davis plant pathologist Doug Gubler have conducted powdery mildew and botrytis studies in Gee's fields. Gee says. “He helped get a minimum of three new chemicals registered for prevention of botrytis and powdery mildew.”
By comparing the effects of experimental and registered fungicides on standard and new varieties of strawberries, Gee says, “He was able to tell growers what products to use when, and which plants are more susceptible. I hope someone comparable will continue Frank's research. Diseases change all the time so you have to continue to look at new chemicals.”