Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 1999


Published in Great Plains Research 9: (Fall 1999). Copyright © 1999 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


When I received A Color Handbook of Diseases of Small Grain Cereal Crops, the first thing that came to mind was "Do we really need another one of these books?" I went to my bookshelf and pulled out no fewer than eight volumes and pamphlets depicting wheat or small grain diseases with color photographs as an aid to identification. After reading the Handbook, however, I have concluded that two major features may make it one of my top two references in this area. Foremost is its outstanding gallery of, full-color pictures. Nigel Cattlin may well be our day's premier photographer of plant diseases. His photographs, eye-catching not only for their accuracy in showing symptoms but for their intense clarity, seem to jump off the page at the reader. They so engrossed me that I thumbed through the entire book my first time through just savoring them. First-class pictures are the most important item for any guide to identification. The excellent photographs of fungal spores, for example, will be particularly helpful to anyone trying to identify those pathogens with a microscope.

The second thing that excites me about this little book is its logical, no nonsense arrangement of information. There are the usual table of contents and index, but also a general introduction about plant diseases and a surprisingly useful glossary. Focusing mainly on North America and Europe, the text accompanying each disease is informative, concise, and accurate. Though a few additional references and a larger bibliography would have pleased me, the references offered will certainly get someone into the literature.