Katherine East joins MSU Extension as new viticulture production specialist in southwest Michigan

New viticulturist brings wealth of experience and a fresh perspective to southwest Michigan.

Katherine East

My name is Katherine East and I am the new viticulture production specialist in southwest Michigan. I joined Michigan State University Extension this past August and it’s been a whirlwind so far over this harvest and into winter. I will be doing applied research and extension to support Michigan’s wine and juice grape growers. I’ve had opportunities this year to meet some great growers, drive a grape harvester and see the inner workings of juice grapes processing, but I’m looking forward to getting to know more people and the industry better as we move into 2020 and beyond.

I come to Michigan from Washington state, where I completed my PhD research in Michelle Moyer’s extension viticulture program at Washington State University. My PhD research looked at management strategies for grape nematode pests in eastern Washington state vineyards. I developed a model to predict the life cycle of northern root-knot nematode using soil temperatures to better time pesticide applications in grapes. I also evaluated pesticides and nematode-resistant rootstocks for their utility in managing this nematode species in vineyards. The goal of this research was to develop a toolkit with multiple options for growers facing potential nematode problems, and is still continuing there.

Katherine East applying nematicides in a vineyard trial
Katherine East applying nematicides in a vineyard trial. Photo by Katherine East, MSU Extension.

Previously, I worked in applied agricultural research with Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada as well as Washington State University Extension in multiple fruit crops, including apples, sweet cherries and blueberries. I am excited to bring my experience in viticulture and nematology to Michigan. I have always been drawn to the mission of Extension, and conducting research geared towards local growers, so I can’t think of a better opportunity than in such a unique viticultural region as Michigan. I’m excited to get to know the growers here and start to build the relationships that are part of what makes Extension so special.

I am located at the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center near Benton Harbor, Michigan, and can be reached at 269-944-1477 ext. 206 or eastkath@msu.edu.

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