PDMR vertical navigation


Homepage of The American Phytopathological Society

  Get the free Adobe Acrobat Reader



A merger of the APS online publications
F&N Tests and B&C Tests


The Evolution of Plant Disease Management Reports

Daniel S. Egel
Editor-In-Chief, Plant Disease Management Reports


The American Phytopathological Society was 37 years old when, at a meeting of the Potomac Division, a committee was appointed to “undertake the collecting, classifying, summarizing and mimeographing disease-control data generously contributed by pathologists throughout the United States and Canada.” Although many plant pathologists were conducting disease control experiments, until that time, there was no method to share this data with other professionals. Plant Disease Reporter and Phytopathology were respected Journals for refereed manuscripts, however, there was no place to report on the efficacy of the rapidly increasing number of fungicides and nematicides that were then available or being developed. This, then, was the start of a long road that would ultimately lead to the publication we now know as Plant Disease Management Reports.


The first volume of the Fungicide and Nematicide Tests was published the very next year, 1946, as a supplement to the USDA publication, Plant Disease Reporter. (Nematicide was not part of the title of Fungicide and Nematicide Tests until 1960 and was spelled Nematocide until volume 24 published in 1969. Prior to 1960, fungicide tests results were not necessarily published in a single volume, but may have appeared throughout the year usually by crop category). Many changes took place in the publishing of Fungicide and Nematicide Tests from its beginning until today. Table 1 indicates the transfer of publishing duties of Fungicide and Nematicide Tests through the years as well as other important milestones. Paul R. Miller was the first Editor of Fungicide and Nematicide Tests.


Table 1: Key events in the development of Plant Disease Management Reports according to year.

Year Event
1945 The Potomac Division of APS in 1945, appointed a committee to “undertake the collecting, classifying, summarizing and mimeographing disease-control data generously contributed by pathologists throughout the United States and Canada.”
1946 The first issue of Fungicide and Nematicide Tests is published as a supplement to the USDA Plant Disease Reporter. Paul R. Miller is the first editor.
1953 Publishing duties for the Fungicide and Nematicide Tests are transferred from the USDA to Agricultural Chemicals.
1957 Fungicide and Nematicide Tests are published privately.
1986 The first volume of Biological and Cultural Tests is published by APS Press. John Hartman is the first Editor.
1988 The first camera-ready issue of Fungicide and Nematicide Tests is published.
1999 Fungicide and Nematicide Tests publishing is taken over by APS press.
2000 Fungicide and Nematicide Tests is published on-line. Reports are uploaded via the Internet.
2001 Biological and Cultural Tests is published on-line. Reports are uploaded via the Internet.
2003 Fungicide and Nematicide Tests and Biological and Cultural Tests are made available through the Plant Management Network.
2007 Fungicide and Nematicide Tests and Biological and Cultural Tests are combined in the on-line journal Plant Disease Management Reports.

The amount of work that was involved in collating, editing and publishing the early volumes of Fungicide and Nematicide Tests is staggering. Long before the Internet or e-mail, early authors would send in typed reports to the editor, what we now call the Editor-In-Chief, to start the process of publication. Until 1988, reports were re-typed using IBM proportional-spacing Executive Electric Typewriters that were provided the typists. These machines were not easy to use and required skills different from a regular typewriter. Many dedicated typists spent hours outside their regular jobs carefully re-typing, and for many years, manually alphabetizing the index. Some individuals spent almost two decades at this task. Without these dedicated individuals, the publication would have failed. Some editors report the ‘burn-out’ and resignation of employees due to the stress and workload associated with the publication duties.


Actual editing of reports in the early years differed dramatically from what is done today. For many years, authors did not see the reports again once they were submitted to the editor. There was just not enough time or postage money to send reports back and forth. Readers insisted that Fungicide and Nematicide Tests be published in April in plenty of time for the information to be useful for the growing season. Editor Dave Ritchie (1984-1987) remembers getting the Fungicide and Nematicide Tests out by mid March one year, but “that is all I accomplished from December to the end of February”.


In some years, former section editor Keith Yoder remembers, an editing checklist (Figure 1) was made and sent back to the authors to aid in the reduction of common errors in subsequent years. In 1988, the first camera-ready reports were published. When relatively minor errors were noted on the camera-ready copies, ‘white-out’ was used and corrections made right on the camera-ready copy. In later years, reports were faxed back to the authors with suggestions.


Figure 1, Click Image to Enlarge


Arthur Engelhard became business manager of Fungicide and Nematicide Tests in the 1970’s. He recalls that there was ‘absolutely no money to publish the next volume’. By paying old bills with new subscriptions and frugal spending, he and Editor Charles Averre brought the fund back into the black.


In 1986, the first volume of Biological and Cultural Tests was published. The publication featured biological management options, cultural controls and variety information. The addition of a publication that emphasized disease management methods other than conventional fungicides and nematicides was perhaps a product of an era in which ecological consciousness was in full swing. It is interesting to note “Biological Control of Plant Pathogens” by Kenneth Baker and James Cook was published in 1982 by APS press. John Hartman was the first Editor of Biological and Cultural Tests.


Fungicide and Nematicide Tests went on-line in 2000. That is, instead of sending in paper copies of the reports, all reports were uploaded to the Internet. Then Editor-In-Chief, Richard Baird, remembers some “bummed scientists” when the switch finally went to on-line reports. Biological and Cultural Tests went on-line in 2001.


The use of e-mail allows authors and editors to communicate several times for each report if necessary. Thus, the quality of reports has increased. Internet availability of the reports allows reports to be searched. In seconds, it is possible to generate all reports involving a specific compound.


Beginning in 2003, Fungicide and Nematicide Tests and Biological and Cultural Tests were made available through two concurrent Internet sites: APSnet and the PLANT MANAGEMENT NETWORK. Because of its wider audience, PLANT MANAGEMENT NETWORK became the only point of access for the reports in 2007. PLANT MANAGEMENT NETWORK comprises a suite of several related applied journals and resources for a single subscription price.


In 2007, Editor-In-Chief of Biological and Cultural Tests Stephen Bost and Editor-In-Chief of Fungicide and Nematicide Tests Daniel Egel worked with APS staff to merge these two publications into Plant Disease Management Reports. Since many reports in recent years contain data for both biological and conventional compounds, the new publication eased searches for data. In addition, many reports involve the interaction of cultural methods and chemical control.


Changes to Fungicide and Nematicide Tests have not been limited to the editing/submission process. The types of compounds tested are quite different now than in the early days. For example, the index for the 1953 volume of Fungicide and Nematicide Tests provides some interesting reading. Compounds that appear in the 1953 Fungicide and Nematicide Tests that might raise some eyebrows today include mercury compounds (e.g., mercurous chloride for grey mold of strawberry and phenyl mercury salicylate for brown rot of apricot, damping-off of vegetables and bacteriosis of walnut), cycloheximide for ‘leaf blight’ of strawberry and formaldehdye for root rot of snapdragon and seed piece decay in potato. Some compounds from the same index that can still be found in today’s reports include Bordeaux mixture, captan, manzate and sulfur formulations.


The number of contributors has increased over the years. In Figure 2, the number of reports per volume is displayed. While a modest 45 reports were published in 1954, by 1970, over 300 reports were recorded. Recently, the number of Fungicide and Nematicide Tests has been between 450 and 500 each year.

Figure 2, Click Image to Enlarge


The quality of the publication Plant Disease Management Reports depends on the dedication of volunteer editors and APS professional staff. Due partly to the excellent APS staff and partly to the on-line nature of the publication, much less work is incumbent on the Editor-In-Chief today versus years past. Now, in the words of Dave Ritchie, “this publication has finally gotten to the point where the editor can be an "editor" and not also the publisher!” “It was interesting to learn all that goes into publishing” adds Ritchie, “but that is not what as scientists we should be doing.”


The author would like to acknowledge the assistance of the following individuals in collecting information for this article: Charles Averre, Richard Baird, Phillip Bogdan, Steven Bost, Authur Engelhard, Steve Kronmiller, Richard Raid, Dave Ritchie, Brian Simdars, Miles Wimer, Keith Yoder.


© The American Phytopathological Society