Issue 1, April 17, 2009

Plant Clinic Still Going Strong

Despite rumors to the contrary, the Plant Clinic at the University of Illinois will be opening again this season. Opening day is May 1, 2009. Although May 1st is a Friday, we will be starting business that day. Do not send samples before that date because mail service will not begin until then. Sending samples to the clinic earlier may result in samples lost in the mail.

The University of Illinois Plant Clinic provides a service to the general public, offering unbiased plant problem diagnosis and access to opinions of specialists in multiple disciplines, funneled through one location. There is a support fee for all plant samples.

For those of you who have never used the Plant Clinic services, a web site with details can be found at There are few changes from the 2008 season. One that is probably not too surprising is an increase in sample fees. We have not increased fees for over 10 years; and the increase this year is minimal. Basic samples, including those needing laboratory culturing, are now $15.00 (previously $12.50). Both pinewood nematode and soybean cyst nematode samples are $20.00. Complete soil nematode assays remain at $40.00. If you plan to send soil for a complete nematode analysis, please call first at 217-333-0519. All sample fees are required with the sample.

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 web site or in extension offices. The more information provided, the better we can accurately assess the problem. Feel free to include photos or a disc of digital images with the sample. We generally prefer three pictures: one picture of the entire planting or landscape, one of the affected plant showing the base at the soil line, and a close-up of symptoms. Always take pictures with the sun at your back. Send only clear images. Remember, if the pictures are blurry for you, they are still blurry when they arrive at the Plant 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 that included weed science, nematology, plant pathology, entomology, horticulture, and agronomy. Additionally, 850 telephone inquiries, 505 walk-in diagnoses, and over 500 electronic inquiries were processed through the Plant Clinic 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 We can provide ELISA testing for many pathogens and will accommodate for specific tests when there is a need.--Nancy Pataky

Nancy Pataky

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