Issue No. 5, Article 3/April 24, 2009
University of Illinois Plant Clinic Reopens May 1
Despite rumors to the contrary, the Plant Clinic at the University of Illinois will be opening again this season. Our first day is Friday, May 1. Do not send samples before then because mail service will not begin until that date, and your samples may be lost.
The University of Illinois Plant Clinic provides a service to the general public, offering unbiased diagnoses of plant problems and access to opinions of specialists in multiple disciplines, funneled through one location. A support fee is required for all submitted samples.
For those of you who have never used Plant Clinic services, a website with details can be found at plantclinic.cropsci.illinois.edu. There are a few changes from 2008. One that is probably not too surprising is an increase in fees. We have not increased fees for over 10 years, and even now this year's increase is minimal. Basic samples, including those needing laboratory culturing, are now $15 (previously $12.50). Both pinewood nematode and soybean cyst nematode samples are $20. Complete soil nematode assays remain $40. If you plan to send soil for a complete nematode analysis, please call first (217-333-0519). All fees are required when the sample is submitted.
When submitting a sample for diagnosis, be sure to include live, symptomatic tissue. It is always a good idea to send a healthy portion along with the affected, but that is not mandatory. A specimen data form is required with each sample. Forms are available on our website and in University of Illinois Extension offices. The more information you provide, the better we can accurately assess the problem. Feel free to include printed photos or a CD-ROM with digital images. These are particularly helpful in showing field patterns. We generally prefer three pictures: one of the entire field, one of an entire affected plant, and one with a close-up of symptoms. Always take pictures with the sun at your back. Send only clear, focused images. Remember, if the pictures are blurry for you, they are still blurry when they arrive at the clinic.
The Plant Clinic processed 2,434 plant samples in 2008. Only four diagnosticians were employed to handle plant samples, but an additional 19 campus specialists provided input from disciplines including weed science, nematology, plant pathology, entomology, horticulture, and agronomy. Additionally, 850 telephone inquiries, 505 walk-in diagnoses, and over 500 electronic inquiries were processed from May through mid-September.
We look forward to another productive year in 2009. If you have specific services or testing needs, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can provide ELISA testing for many pathogens and will accommodate for specific tests when there is a need.--Nancy Pataky