Greg Welbaum

Professor
Greg Welbaum
1880 Pratt Dr. Res Bldg XV Room 1120A
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-5801

Overview

My office and laboratory are located at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center near the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, VA. My research involves studying the biology of Acidovorax citrulli, (bacterial fruit blotch disease), developing realistic tests of seed quality including nondestructive scanning technologies and the LabFieldô field simulation assessment system. Developing postharvest seed treatments to enhance quality. Characterizing and improving the base, ceiling and optimum temperatures of seeds. Plant-based solutions for mitigating environmental damaging from the use of roadway deicing salts. Developing profitable alternative crops for Virginia.

I teach HORT 4764 Vegetable Crops, a 3-unit upper division undergraduate class; HORT 5764 Advanced Vegetable Crops, a three-unit graduate class; HORT 4784 Vegetable Seed Production, a 2-unit upper division undergraduate class taught online; HORT 5784 Vegetable Seed Production, a 2-unit graduate class taught online; HORT 4794 Medicinal Plants and Herbs a 3-unit upper division undergraduate course. I also teach the seed lectures and a seed lab in Hort 2244 Plant Propagation. I am an advisor in the Online Masters of Agriculture and Life Sciences (OMALS) graduate program.

Expertise

Greg has taught both classroom and online vegetable crop classes at Virginia Tech for almost three decades. His book Vegetable Production and Practices has been specifically designed for use in class about vegetable crop production.

The topic of vegetable crop production is vital to human health and should be of interest to everyone. The study of vegetable crops is a fundamental discipline because it deals with the needs of mankind rather than our wants. Each one of us eats vegetables, lots of them, to stay healthy.  According to World Health Organization, the average adult has an annual per capita vegetable consumption estimated to be 102 kg (240 lb.). There is growing awareness that the way we grow vegetables has a profound effect not only on our health but also our environment.  As the average person in developed countries becomes more and more detached from vegetable production, misconceptions grow about the safety and sustainability of production practices. 

Greg graduated from the Ohio State University in 1978 with a B.S. in Horticulture through the Ag. Science program. Interested in using basic science to understand and solve production related problems, Greg ventured to U.C. Davis and earned an MS in Vegetable Crops in 1979, studying genetic differences in processing tomato root systems. After serving in the US Army, he returned in the 1980s to complete a Ph.D. in Plant Biology studying the water relations of cantaloupe seed development for my research.  Over the years the research of Greg’s students and post docs have made contributions in many different areas: Understanding the role of turgor in seed germination, explaining how seed desiccation occurs in fleshy fruited species, understanding the physiological basis of seed priming, describing how some species are able to store solutes extra cellularly and how these solutes affect crop ecology, chitinase production in developing and germinating seeds, and orchid seed development.

Education

  • Ph.D. Plant Biology, University of California, Davis, 1988
  • M.S. Vegetable Crops, University of California, Davis, 1979
  • B.S. Horticulture, The Ohio State University, 1978
  • Realistic testing of seed germination to accurately predict field performance
    • https://www.jove.com/video/54647/a-gusseted-thermogradient-table-to-control-soil-temperatures-for
  • Developing seed treatments to improve germination performance
    • Samarah, N. Wang, H. Welbaum, G.E. 2016. Pepper (Capsicum annuum) seed germination and vigour following nanochitin, chitosan or hydropriming treatments. Seed Science and Technology 44:1-15
  • Vegetable safety to prevent biological contamination
    • Saucedo-Alderete RO; Eifert JD; Boyer RR; Williams RC; Welbaum GE. (2018). Cetylpyridinium chloride direct spray treatments reduce Salmonella on cantaloupe rough surfaces. Journal of Food Safety 1-8, DOI: 10.1111/jfs.12471
    • Wu, J., Goodrich, K., Eifert, J., Jahncke, M.L., O’Keefe, S.F., Welbaum, G.E. Neilson, A.P. (2018). Inhibiting foodborne pathogens Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Listeria monocytogenes using extracts from traditional medicine: Chinese gallnut, pomegranate peel, Baikal skullcap root and forsythia fruit. Open Agriculture, 3:163-170. doi:10.1515/opag-2018-0017
    • Saucedo-Alderete, R.O., Eifert, J.D., Boyer, R.R., Williams, R.C., Welbaum, G.E. (2018) Delmopinol hydrochloride reduces Salmonella on cantaloupe surfaces. Food Science Nutrition, 6(2):373-380. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.564.
  • Mitigating effects of roadway deicing salts on the environment
  • Studying the biology of bacterial fruit blotch disease (Acidovorax citrulli)
    • Traore, S.M., Noam Eckshtain-Levi, N., Castro-Sparks, A., Burdman, S., Walcott, R., Welbaum, G.E., Zhao, Z. (2019). Nicotiana species as a surrogate host for studying the pathogenicity of Acidovorax citrulli, the causal agent of bacterial fruit blotch of cucurbits. Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions. (in press)
  • Sustainable vegetable production

Acharya, T., Welbaum, G., Reiter, M.S., Arancibia, R.A. (2019). Low tunnels increase growth, yield and water use efficiency, and reduce insect populations and leaf feeding injury in Brussels sprouts production HortScience (in press)

Professor Gregory E. Welbaum is a former commercial vegetable grower whose family farm has been primarily involved in agronomic crop production for several generations. He developed an interest in vegetable crops and strawberries at an early age. Greg sold strawberries and vegetables from a roadside vegetable market on his family’s farm in western Miami, County, Ohio beginning in the early 1970s.  Today, Greg is the Managing Partner of Welbaum Farms of Covington, Ohio.

In 2012, Greg was the recipient of the Seed Science Award presented by Crop Science Society of America for his contributions to seed research and education.  Greg developed his classes Vegetable Seed Production and Advanced Vegetable Seed production through a USDA Higher Education Challenge Grant in collaboration with Colorado State University and other Land Grant Universities. 

In 2016, Greg founded Thermogradient Systems LLC. This company has commercialized Greg’s research discoveries on thermogradient tables, LabFieldô, and LabRoadô research tools. LabFieldô, and LabRoadô provide a valuable resource for researchers testing effects of soil temperatures and road conditions, respectively, in a laboratory.