The Roundup -

EARC Welcomes New Plant Pathologist


Frankie Crutcher

There's a new Assistant Professor of Plant Pathology at the MSU Eastern Agricultural Research Center in Sidney, MT. Six weeks ago, Frankie Crutcher joined the research center from College Station, Texas. but is originally from Helena, MT. She has been a plant pathologist for almost ten years. Her main focus will be pulse crops and sugar beets but she has an interest in small grains such as wheat and barley. Frankie will be continuing her work on the different types of diseases these crops can develop through variety trials on pulse crops and sugar beets. Her main focus will be trying to combat the different diseases plant develop during growth.

Crutcher obtained her undergraduate degree at MSU-Bozeman, focusing on Plant Bio Technology. After MSU-Bozeman she then got her graduate credentials in Genetics from Texas A&M, College Station, Texas. Crutcher spent four years at the USDA doing her post doctorate work on how different mycotoxins are involved in the disease progression and severity. She also worked on finding micro organisms that could potentially detoxify those mycotoxins.

Crutcher says, "Attending MSU has been the biggest influence on my career choices." she also said she wasn't a member of FFA or 4H in school, "I grew up in Helena so I wasn't a farm girl." Although she knew she had an interest in plants after taking biology class in high school, it wasn't until she took an Intoduction to Plant Pathology that she knew wanted to be a plant pathologist. While obtaining her undergraduate degree at MSU-Bozeman, she developed her interest in agriculture, world hunger. She wanted to help the farmers that produce the crops we buy in grocery stores today.

Crutcher has been focusing on how to combat plant diseases such as Fusarium and other mycotoxins that can cause crop rejection at the time of harvest. She has also been gathering tissue from wheat plants to study endophytes on the surfaces and within the plants to help protect against pathogens.

With the sugar beet harvest coming up soon, Frankie will be working closely with Sidney Sugars to help address problems local farmers may have with their crops. Sidney Sugars will be taking her out to the fields and when the factory is running again, she'll be taking a tour and learning more about the production process. "I think once I understand the process as a whole it will be easier to address problems the sugar beets may have," she says.

Crutcher said she is currently meeting with four other individuals and will be working on the diseases that effect pulse crops state wide. Crutcher's future plans include meeting other researchers to find commonalities between them which will be used in doing research collaborations with professors from MSU-Bozeman next year on sugar beets and pulse crops.


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