Home Industry News Lake Erie Regional Grape Program Hires New Grape IPM Specialist

Lake Erie Regional Grape Program Hires New Grape IPM Specialist

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County’s Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is excited to announce the arrival of Dr. German Vargas as the new statewide Grape Integrated Pest Management Specialist and Extension Associate at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory in Portland, NY.

As a part of the third largest wine producing state in the nation, New York grape growers work nearly 35,000 acres, producing 128,000 tons of juice grapes, 57,000 tons of wine grapes, and 2,000 tons of table grapes each year. In the new role, Dr. Vargas will grow and sustain New York State’s and Erie County, Pennsylvania’s booming grape industry by working collaboratively, across disciplines, and with a variety of stakeholders to develop, demonstrate and guide Integrated Pest Management implementation (IPM) efforts. Dr. Vargas will be dedicated to generating and advancing knowledge in sustainable pest management practices in grape agroecosystems.

Dr. Vargas was born in Colombia, and in the last couple of years has worked with invasive pests attacking the ornamental industry in south Florida. He graduated with a major in agronomy from Colombia, and then completed his PhD in entomology at Kansas State University in 2012. German is an award-winning entomologist with over 40 publications including peer-reviewed and extension. In Colombia Dr. Vargas participated in research projects related to the biological control of invasive pest species. Later, during his PhD he focused on basic biology of lady beetles, which play a crucial role in the natural biological control of major aphid pests in Midwest cereal crops. After finishing his PhD, Dr. Vargas returned to Colombia to lead an Integrated Pest Management Program targeting sugarcane pests, emphasizing sustainable alternatives, particularly biological control. Most recently he has dedicated his efforts to IPM projects combatting invasive species in the ornamental industry attacking in southern Florida.

When asked about his priorities for the new position and what he is most excited about, Dr. Vargas responded…

“My initial priorities include building connections within the grape industry and deepening my understanding of the crop. I aim to emphasize the integration of pest management strategies that align with the socio-economic conditions in different regions of the state. I am very excited to expand my knowledge on grape diseases, as this is a new area of development on my career, but also, I am looking forward to getting more and new ideas on how to face old and new challenges in grape pest insects, such as the grape berry moth and the spotted lanternfly, respectively. I believe this position offers valuable opportunities to contribute sustainable and cost-effective pest management solutions for grape growers in New York.”

Dr. Vargas’ first official day in this new position was Monday, October 2, 2023.  The research and extension teams are excited to have this position filled here in the Lake Erie Region as a resource for our growers here and across the state. — By Kim Knappenberger, Lake Erie Regional Grape Program

The Lake Erie Regional Grape Program is one of many programs offered by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County (CCE-Chautauqua).  CCE-Chautauqua is a subordinate governmental agency with an educational mission that operates under a form of organization and administration approved by Cornell University as agent for the State of New York. It is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The association is part of the national cooperative extension system, an educational partnership between County, State, and Federal governments. As New York’s land grant university Cornell administers the system in this state. Each Cornell Cooperative Extension association is an independent employer that is governed by an elected Board of Directors with general oversight from Cornell. All associations work to meet the needs of the counties in which they are located as well as state and national goals. For more information, call 716-664-9502 or visit our website at www.cce.cornell.edu/chautauqua.  Cornell University Cooperative Extension provides equal program and employment opportunities.

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