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NMSU?s plant diagnostic services reach public with social media

Are your sycamore trees turning yellow-green? Is something attacking your vegetable garden? Whom you going to call to learn what you need to do to help the plant survive this attack?


Young lady in yellow looking at two computer monitors.
Savannah Graves, New Mexico State University sophomore agriculture education and extension major, studies NMSU?s Plant Diagnostic Center?s new social media sites. Since beginning two months ago, the sites have had thousands of views. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)

New Mexico State University?s Plant Diagnostic Clinic has a website that might be able to help you. The clinic is designed to provide plant diagnostic services for the state of New Mexico.

?Our services include analysis of plant material for plant pathogens and environmental stresses as well as suggesting appropriate control measures when available,? said Natalie Goldberg, NMSU Extension plant pathologist. ?The clinic also facilitates insect and weed identification through referrals to other specialists.?

Through the aces.nmsu.edu/ces/plantclinic website, homeowners, landscape professionals, nursery retailers and government agencies can find a photographs of plant problems to compare plant conditions. There is also a link to publications on a variety of conditions.

The newest way to stay abreast of diseases attacking plants in New Mexico is through social media ? Facebook, blog, Twitter and Pinterest.

?We post featured diagnoses on facebook.com/plantdiagnosticclinic,? Goldberg said. ?Besides written information, we have photographs of the inflicted plant for comparison.?

Recent featured diagnoses include tomato spotted wilt virus, nutsedge and flea beetles. The information is also on nmsuplantclinic.blogspot.com, twitter.com/NMSUPlantClinic and pinterest.com/nmsup.

?We are using every method possible to connect with people to help them raise healthy plants,? Goldberg said of the sites, which have thousands of views since their launch two months ago. ?This is a place for them to start investigating the problem.?

But Goldberg also cautions that diagnosing plant diseases by symptoms alone is risky, as disease symptoms are not specific to a causal agent. ?We always recommend testing the plant in the clinic, not guessing as to cause.?

The plant diagnostic clinic works closely with the NMSU?s Cooperative Extension county offices.

?For initial assistance with plant problems, contact the county extension office near you ? there?s one in every county in the state,? Goldberg said. ?The county Extension staff will assist you with sample submission to the diagnostic clinic.?

No diagnostic service fees are charged when samples are submitted through Extension offices.

?If they would like to use our services directly, there is access to submission forms through the plant diagnostic clinic?s homepage,? she said. ?Please review the pages of the documents for information on fees and how to collect and send a sample. A sample that is improperly collected, packed and shipped, arriving in poor condition, may be insufficient for diagnosis.?

The plant diagnostic clinic is a facility of NMSU Extension Plant Sciences Department that serves as a support lab for the Western Plant Diagnostic Network and provides accurate plant disease diagnosis, quick turn-around time, professional services and up-to-date control recommendations.