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Untold Stories: Forty Years of Field Research on Root Dis
Untold Stories: Forty Years of Field Research on Root Dis

  • Compelling stories full of practical knowledge
  • Support decision-making on the farm and in the lab
  • Learn about a unique approach to research


Item No. 45812
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By R. James Cook

Cook has a BSc in agriculture from North Dakota State University (NDSU); an MSc in plant pathology from NDSU; and a PhD in plant pathology from the University of California, Berkeley. After a 1-year fellowship at the Waite Agricultural Research Institute in Adelaide, Australia, he joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service in 1965 stationed at Washington State University (WSU), where he spent 33 years as a research plant pathologist. Cook then spent 7 years as the R. James Cook Endowed Chair in Wheat Research, a position endowed with a $1.5 million gift to WSU from the Washington wheat growers, followed by two years as interim dean of the WSU College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. Cook was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1993 and was co-winner of the 2011 Wolf Prize in Agriculture awarded in Israel. In addition to Untold Stories and 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, he has co-authored two books on biological control of plant pathogens and one on wheat health management.
R. James Cook is well known and highly respected worldwide by colleagues in plant pathology and by the many wheat farmers he’s served in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. He is known for his dedicated work on root diseases of wheat, his breakthrough research and scientific leadership on the ecological and biological control of soilborne plant pathogens, and his philosophy to conduct his research in the field.

Dr. Cook’s celebrated new book, Untold Stories: Forty Years of Field Research on Root Diseases of Wheat is a comprehensive account of his four decades of field research—and his personal and professional growth while developing his knowledge, expertise, and unique approach to research.

This book is much more than an autobiographical collection of first-person stories. It imparts unique experiences and knowledge for budding and veteran scientists alike; plus, it serves up ‘bushels’ of knowledge that growers and crop consultants can utilize to make more informed and successful decisions in the field.

Weaved among the compelling stories and personal experiences shared in this book is highly useful information for practitioners and scientists alike, including:

  • A comprehensive account of the four most common root diseases of wheat known to science, and the agronomic and seed-treatment options for their management, with a focus on direct-seed (no-till), cereal-intensive cropping systems.

  • Detailed experiences with root diseases of wheat and their management, encompassing 40 years of field research across all precipitation zones in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

  • Fundamental discoveries that could only have been made in the field, such as the 15-20% difference in grain yield when comparing the presence and absence of fumigation for Pythium root rot.

  • An example of Dr. Cook’s unique research philosophy: test hypotheses in the field first, then research more deeply in the laboratory or greenhouse.

  • Untold Stories: Forty Years of Field Research on Root Diseases of Wheat was written for graduate students, researchers, and teachers in plant pathology and the crop and soil sciences. It was also written for extension, farmers, and crop consultants.

The stories told and the realities shared in this book will help guide next-generation research, such as that in the new field of phytobiomes, allowing a new crop of scientists to apply one of Dr. Cook’s longstanding principles: “until it is done in the field—and in practice—it is not done.”

Compelling Excerpts

I recall especially well my talk at Minot, ending just before the morning break. As the chair finally cut off questions and answers, I was swarmed by growers before I could even think of stepping off the platform. What I had told them—and the science I had shared as the underpinning for my message—really resonated with farmers who were hungry for new, science-based information. I was the target of a feeding frenzy, like a piece of trout bait dropped into a pristine alpine lake. No doubt, the information I had just presented also resonated with farmers because it was based on experiments conducted in the field under conditions and circumstances to which they could relate.
Untold Stories, Chapter 2.

One promise I made to myself when accepting K. F. Baker's invitation to be his co-author was to make biological control, broadly defined, central to my research program on root diseases of wheat and not just write a book about biological control—to” walk the talk." Untold Stories is a product of that commitment. The examples, now widely practiced in the inland PNW for cereal-intensive, direct-seed cropping systems and shown here how or why they work, basically come down to two familiar strategies: minimizing root disease pressure and maximizing host tolerance or defense.
Untold Stories, Chapter 15.

Untold Stories: Forty Years of Field Research on Root Diseases of Wheat

Chapter 1

A Minnesota Farm Up-bringing
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Chapter 2

Boots in the Field
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Chapter 3

The Underground World of Root Pathogens
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Chapter 4

Fusarium Root and Crown Rot
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Chapter 5

Plant Water Management
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Chapter 6

Strawbreaker Foot Rot
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Chapter 7

Take-all Decline
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Chapter 8

Break Crops and Take-all Decline
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Chapter 9

The Increased Growth Response to Soil Fumigation
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Chapter 10

Diagnosis of Putative Toxic Straw as Root Disease
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Chapter 11

Epidemiology of Pythium Seed and Root Infections
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Chapter 12

Rhizoctonia Root Rot and the Green Bridge
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Chapter 13

Fertilizer, Fertilizer Placement, and Row Spacing
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Chapter 14

Biological and Chemical Seed Treatments
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Chapter 15

Finale to a Forty-Year Career
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“Impressively informative, singularly well written and organized, effectively presented, and expressly engaging from beginning to end...”
—Reviewers Bookwatch
Publish Date: 2017
Format: 6” × 9” hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-89054-581-2
Pages: 400
Images: 79 images
Publication Weight: 3 lbs

By R. James Cook

Untold Stories: Forty Years of Field Research on Root Diseases of Wheat

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