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Skaggs: UGA clinic in business of diagnosing sick plants

POSTED: March 27, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Whether you’ve got flower problems or diseases eating away at your small grains, the University of Georgia Integrated Pest Management Plant Disease Clinic can help. If you have plant problems that your local county extension agent cannot diagnose, those samples are sent to the clinic.

The IPM Plant Disease Clinic is a diagnostic laboratory operated by the UGA College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences plant pathology department. It is managed in conjunction with the Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic.

Homeowner samples are taken care of by Holly Thornton, CAES plant diagnostician. Thornton is also the homeowner integrated pest management specialist, and she handles all management recommendations regarding diseased homeowner plant samples.

In addition to homeowner plant samples, the following types of plant disease samples are processed in the Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic: commercial ornamental, fruit, turf, forestry, Christmas trees, legume forages, wood rots, mushrooms, urban ornamental landscapes and small grains.

In order to submit a plant sample for disease diagnosis, call or visit your local extension office. For directions to your extension office, call 800-ASK-UGA1, a number that will connect you directly with your county’s office.

It is best to call first so the county extension agent can inform you of correct sampling procedures for your specific plant problem. This will help you collect the appropriate type of plant material before driving to the extension office.

We, as county extension agents, can often diagnose plant problems in the extension offices. County extension agents attend plant pathology and entomology trainings on a regular basis. Many of the plant diseases they identify are common problems here in Georgia.

In addition, most county offices are equipped with microscopes and supplies needed to diagnose plant disease problems.

Oftentimes, a plant sample is packaged and shipped to the diagnostic lab for diagnosis. This is especially true if the plant disease is an unknown or new disease problem, if a county agent is out of town or if the agent is new to the position and unfamiliar with the plant disease problem.

Once the diagnostic laboratory receives the sample, it tries to provide a diagnosis and recommendation to the extension agent in a timely manner. Hopefully, this can be done in a week’s time. Your local agent then contacts you with personalized recommendations.

There is a processing fee of $10 for all homeowner samples submitted to the diagnostic clinic.

Additional information can be found at the diagnostic clinic Web site,
plantpath.caes.uga.edu/extension/clinic.html.

Thanks to Holly Thornton, UGA CAES plant diagnostician.

Billy Skaggs is Hall County extension agent. He can be reached at 770-531-6988. His column appears biweekly and at gainesvilletimes.com.



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