Keith Yoder, professor of plant pathology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the title of professor emeritus by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

As a research and Extension tree fruit pathologist for Virginia Cooperative Extension, Yoder was based at the Alson H. Smith, Jr. Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Winchester, Virginia.

The emeritus title may be conferred on retired professors, associate professors, and administrative officers who are specially recommended to the board by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands in recognition of exemplary service to the university. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board receive a copy of the resolution and a certificate of appreciation.

A member of the Virginia Tech faculty since 1976, Yoder made significant contributions to the tree fruit industry in Virginia and across the nation through his scholarship on integrated disease and orchard management strategies. Through his innovative research on shoot blight management of the devastating fire blight disease of apple, and because he was the first to test for fire blight control with the plant growth regulator prohexadione-calcium, Yoder reduced the potential for resistance to the antibiotic streptomycin, which brought international visibility to Virginia Tech.

In addition, Yoder guided the project that developed the Virginia Tech Pollen Tube Growth Model for apple crop load management that is now publicly available and used by the Pacific Northwestern and Eastern apple industries.

He was principal or co-principal investigator on more than $5 million in research grants focused on integrated disease and crop-load management practices as well as apple cultivars and rootstocks. He was the author or co-author of more than 50 peer-reviewed journal papers, 39 book chapters, 354 peer-reviewed reports, and many more abstracts on applied and basic tree fruit disease management practices.

Over the course of his career, Yoder participated in more than 200 regional winter fruit schools and many in-orchard meetings, delivering more than 2,000 presentations state-wide, regionally, nationally, and internationally. He also wrote more than 1,000 newspaper columns and online disease management updates through a blog that has been accessed by individuals in 141 countries.

Yoder has served on 24 national, regional, or multistate advisory committees and positions in professional organizations, including biosecurity and production interests of the U.S. deciduous tree-fruit industry. He served the Winchester and Frederick County community as a member of the Winchester Tree Commission for eight years and represented Virginia Tech at the Shenandoah Apple Harvest Festival for 35 years.

Yoder received his bachelor’s degree from Goshen College, and M.S. and Ph.D degrees from Michigan State University.

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