Dan L. Horton
2007 D.W. Brooks Award for Excellence in Extension
Dan L. Horton, a fruit and ornamental entomologist, has focused his career on trend anticipation to enhance services to Georgia growers.
In 1994, Horton and colleagues from Clemson University and the University of Tennessee put together a meeting of fruit producers, extension agents, scientists and administrators from seven southeastern states and the USDA to mitigate program declines and enhance the quality of fruit programs. Through this, growers and fruit scientists developed multi-state programs in weed science, pomology and entomology. Regional successes inspired the conception of the Southern Small Fruit Consortium, which is now enjoying similar successes.
As ad hoc regionalization chair for the Southeastern Fruit Workers Conference, Dr. Horton continues to seek and foster excellence in regional fruit programs.
Peach entomology has been hard hit by regulatory decisions that created major insect problems. Replacement of older insecticides to improve the crop’s safety profile simultaneously forced growers to use less effective insecticides.
Dr. Horton worked to voice needs and concerns of growers and pest management scientists. At least one respected veteran of pesticide policy dialogues credits Dr. Horton for retaining usable peach label authorization for phosmet, the peach grower’s best overall insecticide and a key tool for combating the development of pesticide resistance.
Until recently, exporting Georgia blueberries required post-harvest fumigation with methyl bromide to assure freedom from plum curculio and blueberry maggot. Biologically unwarranted methyl bromide fumigation reduces fruit quality and value in international markets. For several years, Dr. Horton worked with USDA, APHIS and regulators to explain that plum curculio is not a blueberry pest in Georgia and appropriate pest management programs and post-harvest sampling could offer almost 100 percent assurance our export-grade fruit is free from these pests.
In 2006, the first year of a pilot program, $2 million worth of un-fumigated Georgia berries were sold to California, all above the prevailing price for the day of shipment.
Working cooperatively with a series of USDA-ARS and university scientists, Dr. Horton helped to develop and implement improved insect management options for scale, borers, plum curculio, blueberry gall midge, thrips, blueberry maggot, tufted apple budmoth and codling moth. He has also been a regional leader in testing and moving new, safer insecticides into commercial use.
Dr. Horton’s active involvement as a research collaborator has demonstratively strengthened his outreach programs. His fruit IPM and culture reference manuals are highly regarded and are often regionally definitive works.
After receiving his bachelor’s in zoology and his master’s in entomology from Clemson University, Dr. Horton completed his doctorate in entomology from the University of Arkansas. Dr. Horton then began his career at UGA in 1982.