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Advancing plant care with UMN

Advancing plant care with UMN

By Scout Nelson

In the heart of Minnesota's farming community, the University of Minnesota (UMN) leads in safeguarding plant health through innovative diagnostic and management strategies. With a focus on both practical and digital solutions, UMN stands at the forefront of combating plant diseases that threaten local agriculture.

Emerging Threats and Strategic Responses

Plant diseases can arise from various factors, including environmental stresses and pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Diseases like Goss’s blight and wilt consistently affect Minnesota’s corn fields each year.

The University's approach involves understanding these diseases' lifecycle, including how pathogens survive and infect crops under local conditions.

Digital Innovations in Plant Diagnostics

The Digital Crop Doc (DCD) platform, developed during the COVID-19 pandemic to minimize travel and direct contact, revolutionizes how farmers diagnose crop diseases.

Supported by Minnesota’s soybean and corn councils, DCD allows for rapid, preliminary disease diagnosis directly from farmers' smartphones. For complex cases, the UMN Plant Disease Clinic recommends further analysis.

UMN Plant Disease Clinic: A Legacy of Excellence

Celebrating nearly seven decades of service, the UMN Plant Disease Clinic remains a pivotal element in Minnesota's agricultural landscape. Directed by Brett Arenz, the clinic provides detailed diagnostic services for a vast array of plant species, ensuring farmers and gardeners receive precise, actionable advice to manage plant health.

Practical Tips for Effective Sample Submission

To ensure accurate diagnosis, the clinic advises on proper sample collection and handling. This includes selecting symptomatic live plants and avoiding water in packaging to prevent deterioration. The timing of submissions is crucial; early-week shipping avoids weekend delays, maintaining sample integrity.

Guidance Beyond the Surface

Understanding that pathogens may not always be visible, the clinic recommends submitting whole plants when possible. This comprehensive approach allows for a more accurate assessment of diseases, particularly those like sudden death syndrome in soybeans, which originates in the roots despite above-ground symptoms.

Through continuous innovation and practical guidance, UMN's initiatives empower Minnesota's farmers to tackle plant health challenges effectively. As plant diseases evolve, so do the solutions offered by UMN, ensuring that local agriculture thrives in the face of adversity.

Photo Credit -gettyimages-eugenesergeev

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Categories: Minnesota, Crops

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