Ready for Samples at the University of Illinois Plant Clinic

Welcome to another Diagnostics season! Samples have been steadily appearing this spring here at the Clinic in our 39th year of operation. On the field front, there have been concerns with virus disease diagnosis in wheat. On the home landscape front, there is a mountain of winter kill and windburn injury from the harsh winter just past.

The University of Illinois Plant Clinic began year-round operation in the fall of 2011. Our new location is in Jonathan Baldwin Turner Hall on the south end of the Urbana campus. During the winter, our hours are irregular due to trainings and winter meetings so call ahead. However, we resume regular business hours, 8am-12pm and 1pm-4:30pm, on Monday April 28th, 2014.

Example of a great sample: Sample form, symptomatic plant, protected root ball and payment

Plant Clinic services include plant and insect identification, diagnosis of disease, insect, weed and chemical injury observation (chemical injury on field crops only), nematode assays, and help with nutrient related problems, as well as management recommendations involving these diagnoses. Microscopic examinations, laboratory culturing, virus assays, and nematode assays are some of the techniques used in the clinic. Many samples can be diagnosed within a day or two. Should culturing be necessary, isolates may not be ready to make a final reading for as much as two weeks. Nematode processing also requires about 1-2 weeks depending on the procedure. We send your final diagnoses and invoices to you through both the US mail and email. If you provide your email address on the sample form you will get your information earlier.

Please refer to the Plant Clinic website for additional details on sampling, sample forms, fees and services offered. If you have questions about what, where, or how to sample call us at 217-333-0519. Whenever submitting a sample, provide as much information as possible on the pattern of injury in the planting, the pattern on individual affected plants, and details describing how symptoms have changed over time to cause you concern.

Our fees vary depending on the procedure necessary. General diagnosis including culturing is $15, ELISA and immunostrip testing is $25, Nematode analysis for SCN or PWN is $20, Specialty Nematode testing (such as corn) is $40.

Please include payment with the sample for diagnosis to be initiated. Checks should be made payable to the University of Illinois or to the Plant Clinic. Companies can setup an account, call and we will accommodate you. Call if uncertain of which test is needed.

Plant Clinic location, S-417 Turner Hall, 1102 S. Goodwin, Urbana IL 61801

Drop off a sample:

You can also drop off a sample at S-417 Turner Hall. Park in the metered lot F 28 on the east side of Turner or at the ACES library metered lot on the west side of Turner. Come in the South door. Take the elevator located in the SE corner of the building. Turn left when exiting the elevator; we are located along the SE corridor of the 4th floor. Please use the green drop box located just outside S-417 if we are temporarily out of the office.

Sending a sample thru US mail or delivery service address to:

University of Illinois Plant Clinic
1102 S. Goodwin, S-417 Turner Hall
Urbana, IL 61801

Social Media: We have a lot of ways to keep you up to date on what is happening at the Plant Clinic and about other plant and pest issues. Follow the U of I Plant Clinic on Facebook, YouTube or, Blogger.

2014 Illinois Crop Management Conferences Registration Now Open

The latest research information on crop production and management issues will be discussed at four University of Illinois Crop Management Conferences this winter. These two-day conferences are designed to address a wide array of topics pertinent to crop production, pest management, and natural resource issues and provide a forum for discussion and interaction between participants and university researchers.

Certified Crop Advisers can earn up to 13 hours of CEU credit. Advance registration, no later than one week before each conference, is $130 per person. Late and on-site registration is $150. Dates and location for the four regional conferences are listed below. Links to the complete agendas and registration information for each conference are located on the Crop Sciences Research and Education Center web page here.


January 22-23: Mt. Vernon – Krieger/Holiday Inn Convention Center. For more information, contact Robert Bellm, (618-427-3349); . Register online at

January 29-30: Springfield – Northfield Inn Conference Center. For more information, contact Robert Bellm, (618-427-3349); . Register online at

February 6:  Champaign – i-Hotel and Conference Center. For more information, contact Dennis Bowman, 217-244-0851); . Register online at

February 12-13: Malta – Kishwaukee College Conference Center. For more information, contact Russ Higgins (815-274-1343); . Register online at

Brownstown Agronomy Research Center Field Day – July 25

The 2013 Brownstown Agronomy Research Center Field Day, presented by the University Of Illinois Department Of Crop Sciences, will be held on Thursday, July 25. Extension researchers and specialists will address issues pertinent to the current growing season. Tours will start at 8 a.m., with the second and third groups leaving the headquarters around 8:20 a.m. and 8:40 a.m. The tours will last about two and a half hours and will be followed by lunch provided by U of I Extension.

Shaded tour wagons will take participants to each stop. These topics will be addressed:

  • Nitrogen Sensors & Variable-rate N Applications – Dennis Bowman
  • Wheat Disease I.D. & Management – Dr. Carl Bradley
  • Emerging Developments in Weed Management – Doug Maxwell
  • Crop Rotation:  Another Risk Management Tool – Dr. Emerson Nafziger
  • Agronomic and Environmental Assessment of Cover Crops – Dr. Angie Peltier

 The 208-acre Brownstown Agronomy Research Center has been conducting crop research on the claypan soils of southern Illinois since 1937. More than 30 research and demonstration projects are conducted at the Center every year. Visitors are always welcome.

The research center is located south of Brownstown on IL Route 185, approximately 4 miles east of the IL Route 40 / 185 junction.

For more information, contact Robert Bellm (618-427-3349);
Visit us on the web at

Western Corn Rootworm Hatch Confirmed in West Central Indiana

Entomologists (Christian Krupke, John Obermeyer, and Larry Bledsoe) at Purdue University have confirmed that the annual larval hatch of western corn rootworms is underway. They found the first corn rootworm larva on June 6 and believe that hatch was initiated on June 4. This event was a little later than heat-unit totals predicted. I suspect that the drought of 2012 forced much deeper egg laying in the soil contributing to the slightly later hatch this spring. Not all corn rootworm larvae hatch at once. This staggered event will occur over the next several weeks. By late June and early July, we should begin to see evidence of root injury, especially in fields where corn rootworm products may not be performing up to acceptable standards.

Mike Gray

Early Season Soybean Aphid Observations

On May 15-19, 2013, Drs. David Voegtlin (retired entomologist, Illinois Natural History Survey) and Dave Hogg (Professor, University of Wisconsin, Madison), surveyed the overwintering hosts of soybean aphids — the common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) and glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus). Their 2,000 + mile survey of these primary hosts took them across Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. A synopsis of their observations by state are provided below.

  • Illinois -aphid colonies found in Mississippi Palisades State Park, Savannah, Illinois; Quad Cities – surveyed three sites, aphids numerous at one location, present at two remaining sites; Joliet – discovered some small colonies, overall aphids not numerous
  • Indiana – aphid colonies easy to find near LaPorte and Rome City
  • Michigan – aphids discovered near Augusta, not numerous
  • Minnesota (western) – no aphids found
  • Ohio – aphids were abundant near Toledo (Secor Park)
  • South Dakota – no aphids found
  • Wisconsin – aphids found near Prairie du Chien

The entomologists concluded that aphids were more abundant on this expedition than the exceptionally early spring of 2012. They did add a cautionary statement regarding the identification of the aphids that were collected, that is, some of the aphids observed could be a different aphid species — A. nasturtii (buckthorn aphids).

On June 4, Dave Hogg observed soybean aphids on seedling soybeans (VC – V1) at a research farm near Madison, Wisconsin. They sampled 100 plants and discovered that 13 were infested with aphids. It’s too early to tell what type of season producers should expect from this insect pest. Mild summers tend to promote greater soybean aphid activity and injury to soybeans. Hot and dry summers tend to work against the establishment of soybean aphids. I offer my thanks to David Voegtlin and Dave Hogg for sharing these early-season observations.

Mike Gray

Armyworms Reach Impressive Levels in Southwestern Illinois Wheat

Wheat producers, especially in southwestern Illinois, should be scouting their fields for armyworms and considering the need to apply a rescue treatment. Kevin Black, Insect and Plant Disease Technical Manager, Growmark, Inc., reported on June 7 that large numbers of armyworms were leaving roadside ditches, moving into adjacent wheat fields, and inflicting heavy damage. Armyworm densities and damage in one wheat field located northeast of St. Louis was particularly impressive. Because of the heavy rains this spring and the lack of mowing, ditch banks and roadsides have thick stands of tall fescue and brome grass. These sites have served as attractive egg laying targets for migrating armyworm moths. Producers are encouraged to scout their wheat fields and pastures for potentially heavy armyworm feeding.

Below are some photographs of the armyworm infestation provided by Mr. Kyle Heimann of M & M Service Company. He indicated to Kevin Black that treatments have been applied to some fields with only marginal success.

Armyworms vacating wet ditchbanks and seeking higher ground, Photo: Courtesy of Mr. Kyle Heimann, M & M Service Company, June 7, 2013.


Armyworm damage to plants, north east of St. Louis, Photo - Courtesy of Mr. Kyle Heimann, M & M Service Company, June 7, 2013.


For more information about the identification, biology, life cycle, and management of armyworms, please consult the fact sheet on this insect pest provided by the Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois.

Mike Gray

Potato Leafhoppers Active in Central Illinois

On June 5, I sampled an alfalfa field in Champaign County and found potato leafhoppers by using a sweep net. These small insects have the potential to cause injury to subsequent cuttings of alfalfa. Typically, the first cutting across much of Illinois is not at economic risk to this migratory pest. Producers are encouraged to scout their fields for potato leafhoppers and recognize that very low densities of these insects equipped with piercing and sucking mouthparts can cause economic losses to alfalfa soon after the first cutting. Densities as low as 0.2 leafhoppers per sweep in stands that have plants less than 3 inches in height can cause damage. Don’t wait too long for plants to begin greening up after the first harvest only to find leafhoppers have been hard at work. For more information about the identification, biology, life cycle, and management of potato leafhoppers, please refer to the Department of Crop Sciences fact sheet regarding this insect.

Mike Gray

Armyworm Activity Reported in Corn and Wheat

Producers are encouraged to scout both corn and wheat for armyworms and potential feeding. Kevin Black, Insect and Plant Disease Technical Manager with Growmark Inc., reported that a field of corn (Putnam County) planted into a rye cover crop had received some defoliation by armyworms. Kelli Bassett, a Field Agronomist with DuPont Pioneer, observed (May 30) some armyworm feeding in scattered wheat fields across Macoupin and Montgomery counties.

For more information about the biology, life cycle, management, and economic thresholds for armyworms in corn and wheat, please refer to the Department of Crop Sciences fact sheet.

Mike Gray