Stanley Culpepper: A leading voice for growers

By Clint Thompson

When University of Georgia (UGA) Cooperative Extension weed agronomist Stanley Culpepper speaks, Tift County grower Bill Brim listens. After more than two decades of Culpepper providing expertise regarding more than 20 different vegetable crops, there’s no reason for Brim not to pay attention.

“He’s a great young man. He’s a hard worker and tries to get things done. He’s the best one out at the (experiment) station, as far as I’m concerned,” says Brim, co-owner of Lewis Taylor Farmers in Tifton, Georgia.

Culpepper’s accomplishments are a big part of why growers like Brim have confidence in what the scientist says. A professor in the UGA Crop and Soil Science Department, Culpepper is a world-renowned scientist at one of the leading agricultural colleges in the country and has had a lot to say over his 20-plus years at the Tifton campus.

Culpepper’s team is improving tactics for vegetable growers to better manage weeds. In the last couple of years, he has been very active in fruiting vegetables, like tomato, pepper and eggplant; cucurbits, like watermelon, squash, cantaloupe and cucumber; cole crops, like broccoli and cabbage; and leafy greens, like collard and mustard; as well as carrots.

Whether it’s researching alternatives to methyl bromide or developing management strategies for overcoming palmer amaranth weeds, Culpepper has had far-reaching impact in commodities across the world.

“My team’s research efforts have always and will always follow the needs of our growers, which are of course, very diverse,” Culpepper says. “Developing alternative systems to methyl bromide that our farmers continue to rely on today was certainly among our more impactful work. I also think it was my favorite personal project. That effort was so large that I had an opportunity to work with growers for an extended period of time early in my career. Those growers really helped teach me how to grow vegetables on plasticulture. And of course, what good is research if the researcher can’t grow a crop like a grower?”