Untold Stories

This book is much more than an autobiographical collection of first-person stories. It imparts unique experiences and knowledge for budding and veteran scientists alike; plus, it serves up ‘bushels’ of knowledge that growers and crop consultants can use to make more informed and successful decisions in the field.

Woven among the compelling stories and personal experiences shared in this book is highly useful information for practitioners and scientists alike, including:

  • A comprehensive account of the four most common root diseases of wheat known to science, and the agronomic and seed-treatment options for their management, with a focus on direct-seed (no-till), cereal-intensive cropping systems.
  • Detailed experiences with root diseases of wheat and their management, encompassing 40 years of field research across all precipitation zones in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
  • Fundamental discoveries that could only have been made in the field, such as the 15-20% difference in grain yield when comparing the presence and absence of fumigation for Pythium root rot.
  • An example of Dr. Cook’s unique research philosophy: test hypotheses in the field first, then research more deeply in the laboratory or greenhouse.
  • Untold Stories: Forty Years of Field Research on Root Diseases of Wheat was written for graduate students, researchers, and teachers in plant pathology and crop and soil sciences. It was also written for extension, farmers, and crop consultants.

The stories told and the realities shared in this book will help guide next-generation research, such as that in the new field of phytobiomes, allowing a new crop of scientists to apply one of Dr. Cook’s longstanding principles: “until it is done in the field—and in practice—it is not done.”

Compelling Excerpts

“I recall especially well my talk at Minot [at a meeting of the Manitoba North Dakota No-Till Association], ending just before the morning break. As the chair finally cut off questions and answers, I was swarmed by growers before I could even think of stepping off the platform. What I had told them—and the science I had shared as the underpinning for my message—really resonated with farmers who were hungry for new, science-based information. I was the target of a feeding frenzy, like a piece of trout bait dropped into a pristine alpine lake. No doubt, the information I had just presented also resonated with farmers because it was based on experiments conducted in the field under conditions and circumstances to which they could relate.”
Untold Stories, Chapter 2.


“One promise I made to myself when accepting K. F. Baker’s invitation to be his co-author [of my first book, Biological Control of Plant Pathogens], was to make biological control, broadly defined, central to my research program on root diseases of wheat and not just write a book about biological control—to” walk the talk.” Untold Stories is a product of that commitment. The examples, now widely practiced in the inland PNW for cereal-intensive, direct-seed cropping systems and shown here how or why they work, basically come down to two familiar strategies: minimizing root disease pressure and maximizing host tolerance or defense.”
Untold Stories, Chapter 15.