Vale Dr Stephen Allen

30 July, 2018 News

The Australian cotton industry has lost one of its long-time contributors, with the recent passing of renowned plant pathologist Dr Stephen Allen.

Dr Allen spent 39 years serving the industry, including 16 years with Cotton Seed Distributors. He made major contributions to the understanding, management and control of diseases affecting cotton production in Australia, most notably Fusarium wilt.

Dr Allen received a number of awards over his career, including Researcher of the Year in 1990 and 2007, and the Honorary Membership Award from Crop Consultants Australia in 2014. He was included in the Australian Cotton Industry Awards roll of honour in 2016 after his retirement in 2015.

Cotton Seed Distributors extends condolences to Dr Allen’s family and friends.

For more on Dr Allen’s career, please see a media release which was first published by CSD in December 2015.

Dr Stephen Allen announces retirement
17 December, 2015

After 39 years serving the cotton industry and the wider farming community Dr Stephen Allen has announced his intention to retire at the end of 2015.

Dr Allen has made a major contribution to the understanding, management and control of diseases affecting cotton production in Australia and around the world. He is recognised as a global leader in dealing with Fusarium Wilt in cotton.

In Australia Dr Allen’s ability to relate to growers and understand their needs saw him develop disease management strategies and tactics that fitted within the Australian cotton production systems and contributed to the profitability of those systems.

After completing his science degree (with First Class Honours and a University Medal) and his PhD at the University of New England, Stephen joined the NSW Dept. of Agriculture at Narrabri in 1983. Dr Allen’s initial challenges included Bacterial Blight, Verticillium wilt and seedling diseases. He established the annual cotton disease surveys and contributed to the development of an effective seed scheme controlling blight in the very susceptible Deltapine varieties.

Dr Allen’s research also included significant contributions on mycorrhizae, microbial fibre damage in rain-delayed harvests, control strategies for Verticillium Wilt, the first record of black root rot on cotton in Australia and a major role in formulating and implementing the Australian cotton industry response to the escalating threat of Fusarium Wilt. He also completed an exhaustive evaluation of seed treatments based on Systemic Induced Resistance. His ‘Come Clean-Go Clean’ slogan has been widely adopted.

His efforts earned him the Researcher of the Year award twice - in 1990 and again in 2007. In 2014 he received an Honorary Membership Award from Crop Consultants Australia.

CSD recruited Dr Allen in 1999 and he was immediately seconded to CSIRO as a visiting scientist working with the CSIRO cotton breeding team based at ACRI Narrabri. Here he played an important role in focusing research into managing Fusarium (including developing and maintaining the F.rank and V.rank systems) as well researching and developing methods to control other diseases of importance such as Alternaira and Black Root Rot.

Mr Peter Graham, Managing Director at CSD said that the industry had been fortunate in being able to secure the services of Dr Allen who helped CSD provide expert and ongoing strategic direction to research into combating the Fusarium threat.

CSD’s Chair Mr James Kahl has also thanked Dr Allen for his work more broadly in cotton based plant pathology. “Steve Allen led a collaborative approach to this that effectively leveraged knowledge and technology from across and outside the cotton industry which enhanced the sustainability of cotton production In Australia.” Mr Kahl pointed to the development and commercialisation of Bion seed treatment as an example of this leadership.

CSD thanks Stephen, his wife Kristine and the entire family for their contribution to the industry.