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What Is This?

May 17, 2002
What if there were 50 Extension professionals at your local Extension office who could help diagnose your plant or pest problems, who had a range of expertise that included field crops, forages, turf, fruit, commercial vegetables, and home pest problems? University of Illinois Extension's Distance Diagnostics system makes that possible by bringing every Extension office in the state almost instant access to the diagnostic skills of these experts.

Digital cameras and microscopes used to collect images.

Using digital imaging equipment, local office staff can take high-quality images of plant and pest problems. The images, along with background information about the problem, are submitted to the Distance Diagnostics system. The appropriate experts are instantly sent e-mail messages that a new sample has been submitted. No matter where they are, if they can get their e-mail, they can make a diagnosis. Rapid diagnosis is often critical in preventing losses and in providing peace of mind. Last year, 22% of the samples were diagnosed within 2 hours of submission, and 77% within 48 hours.

The system is now in its third year of statewide operation, and to date 2,789 samples have been submitted. This service is still free through your local Extension office.

Here is an example of a sample submitted last week by Tim Laatsch from the Effingham Extension unit. He included the following background along with the images: "small (8-20") winter annual growing in moderately dense stand over much of bottomland field, leaves are narrow and coarsely ribbed without hair, membranous ligule with no auricles, stem wiry like a hollow tube, 1.5" long seedheads are dense with 1/4" awns and yellow-white florets (?), resembles meadow foxtail but smaller." The sample was identified as Carolina foxtail.

--Dennis Bowman

Author: Dennis Bowman

The Pest Management and Crop Development Bulletin
Executive Editor: Kevin Steffey, Extension Entomologist

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