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Issue No. 6, Article 5/May 2, 2008

Plant Clinic Services Available

Consider the University of Illinois Plant Clinic when seeking help with plant problem diagnoses. This service is available beginning May 1. The lab is seasonal, staying open through September (or longer as necessary).

The University of Illinois Plant Clinic provides a service to the general public, offering unbiased diagnosis of plant problems and access to opinions of specialists in multiple disciplines, funneled through one location. A support fee is charged for all plant samples submitted. For information about the clinic, fees, location, and how to submit samples, visit plantclinic.cropsci.uiuc.edu.

Why would you want to use this service? Perhaps you have no idea what is causing a plant or plants to decline. You may have been seeing a problem for one or more years and would like to get to the bottom of it. Sometimes clients know what is causing a problem but need confirmation. Often our clients have specific tests in mind, such as culturing to test for oak wilt, identifying a specific insect or weed, or testing for soybean rust. Check our Web site, and feel free to call with questions about our services.

The Plant Clinic is responsible for the diagnosis of Illinois soybean rust sentinel plot samples and uploading data to the PIPE (Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education) database. In 2007 we examined 10,018 leaflets looking for soybean rust, which was confirmed in Illinois in Massac, McDonough, Champaign, and Bureau counties. All finds were made via mobile plots after regular sentinel plots had been harvested for the season.

Field crop seed that is to be exported from the U.S. often must be inspected during the growing season. The Plant Clinic is the diagnostic lab for samples pulled by Illinois Crop Improvement Association (ICIA) field inspectors. This information is used by the Department of Agriculture to issue export permits. In 2007 the Plant Clinic processed 1,006 ICIA plant samples as part of the phytosanitary inspection service.

ELISA testing for Phytophthora species is now a regular part of the clinic's battery of tests. Nematode testing of the soil, roots, or foliage is another common procedure.

Consider using this resource to help with identifying plant problems. Provide detailed information and a fresh sample. Images of plants in the field are extremely helpful as well. The Plant Clinic processed 2,318 plant samples in 2007--31% from Extension sources and the rest from other sources. Field crops comprised 78% of the samples, and 17% were ornamental plants.--Nancy Pataky

Nancy Pataky

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