Forrest W. Nutter, Jr. a career in phytopathometry

Laurence V. Madden, Paul D. Esker, Sarah J. Pethybridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Forrest W. Nutter, Jr., had a distinguished career in plant disease epidemiology and crop loss assessment, starting as a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire and North Dakota State University, and then as a faculty member at the University of Georgia and Iowa State University. This article reviews his pioneering contributions in phytopathometry over a nearly 40-year period, in which he developed and evaluated the tenets of disease assessment, and explored ways of improving assessment using visual, photographic, and electronic means. He initiated research on the measurement of disease and other crop traits using multispectral radiometers in 1983, and continued this work for decades, providing early evidence of the wavelengths often associated with disease severity, and demonstrating multiple applications for radiometric measurements. This work led to research on the reliability and accuracy of electronic and visual methods for assessing disease intensity and the relationships between different types of assessments; evaluations of the underlying principles of visual disease estimation; and the development of computerized training programs for disease assessment (e.g., Disease.Pro and Severity.Pro), which have been used in more than 25 countries and 100 universities. Among other things, his research provided substantial evidence to refute the Horsfall-Barratt scale for accurate or reliable visual disease assessment. His contributions have given a strong foundation for all researchers who wish to improve measurements of disease, or use measurements to evaluate controls or understand disease progress and crop losses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-13
Number of pages9
JournalTropical Plant Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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