AgCenter diagnostic center solves plant health issues

BATON ROUGE — When people get sick, they usually call their doctor. Louisiana residents and extension personnel can do the same thing when their plants get sick, thanks to the LSU AgCenter’s Plant Diagnostic Center. At the center, director and “plant doctor” Raj Singh can examine samples and help with just about any plant health problem.
The center provides affordable, accurate and rapid diagnoses of plant health problems and offers solutions. Using plant samples that owners send or bring to the center, Singh can diagnose various issues caused by pathogens, insects, mites and nematodes.
Singh receives hundreds of samples per year from homeowners and as well as commercial vegetable growers, nurseries and turfgrass managers. Most samples are of ornamental plants, and the most common problem is diseases caused by fungi.
Singh said many issues, such as plants being planted too deep or having bad drainage, can be easily fixed. Other problems are more serious.
“If you have a tomato plant and it’s dying because of a soil-borne bacterial or fungal pathogen, you need to know that,” Singh said. “You can’t just plant another tomato plant in the same spot because the pathogen will still be in your soil.”
The process of submitting a sample for analysis depends on the plant and the problem. Most samples can be mailed, but sometimes it is better to bring the plant to the center. Other times, solutions can be identified by emailing photos to Sing. Initial analysis of most samples costs $20. Professional turfgrass clients are charged $75.
To learn how to submit a sample, go to www.LSUAgCenter.com and search for Plant Diagnostic Center or call 225-578-4562.

By OLIVIA MCCLURE LSU AgCenter

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