Plant Disease Clinic by the Numbers: 2017
By: Brett Arenz, Plant Disease Clinic Director
During the 12 months from Oct 1st, 2016 to Sept 30th, 2017, clients submitted 2421 samples to the Plant Disease Clinic, this represented approximately 160 plant species as host types. Winter grain mold sample numbers were lower than recent previous years, but a large contract-based research project compensated for this to some degree during the summer. During this time, Jennifer Flynn and myself were assisted by some excellent undergraduate student workers. Jacob Botkin and Carl Branch both worked during the Fall of 2016 and Spring 2017. Jacob was later loaned out to the Forest Service and managed to transition to a full-time employee there after he graduated. Recently the PDC has secured the services of Wanqing Wang and Jihyun Kim and both are proving to be excellent choices already. This continues the recent trend of success in finding top quality undergraduate clinic assistants amongst the classes that I teach.
The PDC has often had a large number of oak samples submitted in the summer for Oak Wilt testing, but 2017 was noticeable in the high number of Bur Oak tree samples (92) compared to White Oak (30) and Red Oak (31). In many cases these trees were submitted for oak wilt testing but proved to instead be infected with the fungal disease, Bur Oak Blight. This is a disease that has been reported for a few years in MN but 2017 was especially noticeable in the frequency at which it found its way to our clinic door. There was also a surge in Phytophthora disease during one of the warmer and wetter periods of the summer, particularly causing a shoot blight on ornamental plants. Garlic was also a frequent sample type (43), this being largely driven by concern about the garlic bloat nematode given the vulnerability of the industry to this noxious pest.