David McCall

Assistant Professor

Program Focus

My primary responsibility is to oversee all phases of fungicide field evaluations for turfgrass diseases. I also interact heavily with representatives within the agrichemical industry, other members of the Turf Team at Virginia Tech, and stakeholders of the Commonwealth. Turf managers throughout the Commonwealth rely on me to troubleshoot disease-related issues through on-site and laboratory diagnosis, and subsequently help develop integrated management practices. Results from my research findings are used for annual improvements to the VCE Pest Management Guides for Lawn and Turf diseases, and are disseminated to local, region, and national audiences.

My program began a major transformation in 2012 to incorporate new technologies for improved stress detection and optimization of IPM strategies. While fungicide efficacy screening is, and will continue to be, a major funding source for my program, I see a shift towards more integrated approaches to maximize fungicide performance. Many agrichemical companies are looking to add value to existing chemistries with plant health benefits. My program began attempting to quantify benefits of plant defense activators, plant health promoters, and UV blockers. In addition to fungicide testing, I began looking at how emerging technologies, such as moisture meters and remote sensing, can contribute to disease suppression.

Current Projects

“Spatial Impact of Turf Fans on Golf Putting Greens” – this project funded by the Virginia Ag. Council and Virginia Turfgrass Foundation looks to address some of the unanswered questions about the distal benefits of turf fans, including the ultimate impact on reducing stress-induced Pythium root rot.

Education

  • Ph.D., Plant Pathology, Virginia Tech, 2016
  • M.S., Plant Pathology, Virginia Tech, 2006
  • B.B.A., Marketing, Radford University, 2001

Experience

  • August 2009 – present: Research Associate, Turfgrass Pathologist, Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg
  • May 2004 – 2009: Research Specialist II, Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg
  • Aug. 2001 – 2004: Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg

Selected Major Awards

  • 2012 – Outstanding Recent Alumni Award, Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, CALS Alumni Organization, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg
  • 2007 – JoAnn Ridpath Award Recipient (Most Outstanding Staff Member), Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg

Guest Lectures Taught

  • CSES 2564 – Turfgrass Management
  • CSES 3564 – Golf and Sports Turf
  • AT 0664 – Golf and Sports Turf Management
  • CSES 5064 – Turfgrass Science Seminar

Other Teaching and Advising

  • Presented 58 guest lectures in seven undergraduate courses and one graduate course offered in four departments since 2004.
  • Mentor to seven graduate and fifteen undergraduate student employees.
  • Currently serve on advising committee for four graduate students.

Program Focus

My extension program involves direct interaction with turf managers around the Commonwealth, through applied collaborative research and off-campus demonstration of integrated pest management strategies. The objectives of my extension program are 1) to provide exposure and recommendations for newly emerging chemistries used to manage turf diseases, and 2) to develop best-management practices for stress-induced diseases that are increasingly common on intensively managed turf. My research and extension programs promote true integration of pest management tactics to minimize the impact of diseases on various turfgrasses.

Current Projects

“Development and delivery of improved spring dead spot management tools for athletic fields” – this project is geared towards improving Extension recommendations for managing spring dead spot through improved species identification with qPCR. This collaboration with the Plant Disease Clinic at Virginia Tech and turf managers in Virginia is under funding consideration by USDA-NIFA Extension IPM grant.

David McCall
  • (540) 231-9598
  • dsmccall@vt.edu
  • 202 Glade Road Research Center
    Mail code: 0330
    Blacksburg, VA 24061