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Despite all the tender loving care that you give your plants, they may contract a disease or insect infestation.

Plant diseases may be caused by fungi, bacteria, viruses, viroids (virus-­like organisms), phytoplasmas, protozoa, nematodes and parasitic plants. Although not categorized as diseases, the damage done by insects and mites may also severely impact plant health. Nutritional deficiencies or excessive amounts of nutrients may damage plants, as well, sometimes mimicking disease symptoms and making diagnosis difficult.

Plant health is dependent on a number of factors including the proper soil type, water requirements and sun exposure needed for the crop you are growing. A pint of soil collected from the planting site and submitted to your local county Extension office for analysis prior to planting can be invaluable in preventing problems. When problems do occur, accurate disease identification is crucial in planning an effective control program to preserve or maintain a healthy plant. No plant is immune to all diseases. Every plant has its own set of disease problems, and an accurate diagnosis of the problem is the first step in solving the problem.

There are hundreds of diseases that attack plants in Arkansas. Some diseases are easy to recognize while some are difficult and will require laboratory analysis before a diagnosis can be obtained.

Local county Extension agents are trained to recognize some of the common diseases that affect plants in Arkansas, and in many cases, a call to your county Extension office will be all that is necessary to obtain a diagnosis. However, if the county agent is unable to identify the "culprit," then a sample of your plants, along with some background information, can be sent through the local county office to the Plant Health Clinic located in Fayetteville. When the diagnosis has been completed, the report will be sent to both the county agent and the client.

In addition to the physical sample, the second thing that you can do to help ensure an accurate diagnosis is to provide important background infor­mation about the plant. Accurate information is extremely important in formulating a diagnosis and offering control suggestions to you.

For specific additional information regarding collecting and submitting plant samples for disease examination, see Jimmy Driggers, county Extension agent-staff chair, at the Garland County Cooperative Extension Service, 236 Woodbine, or call 501-623-6841.

4-H Club information

For information about Garland County 4-H Club membership or program benefits, contact Linda Bates at the Garland County Cooperative Extension Service, 236 Woodbine, call 501-623-6841, or email lbates@uaex.edu. More information is available at http://www.uaex.edu/garland.

Master Gardener information

If you have an interest in gardening, you may want to apply to become a Master Gardener. If you want an application, you may call our office to have one emailed to you, or drop by and pick one up at the cooperative Extension office at 236 Woodbine. You're welcome to attend the monthly Master Gardener meeting, which is held on the third Thursday of each month at 1 p.m. at the Elks Lodge, 132 Abbott Place. They're open to the public and guests are always welcome. For more information, call the Extension office at 623-6841.

EHC information

Are you interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers Club? EHC is the largest volunteer organization in the state. For information on EHC, call 623-6841 or email Alison Crane at acrane@uaex.edu. Follow Alison on Facebook @garlandEGF and @GarlandFCS, and EHC on Facebook @GarlandCountyEHC.

Society on 02/11/2019

Print Headline: Diagnosing plant diseases

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