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Jan. 24, 2022
By Rebekah HallU of A System Division of Agriculture
LITTLE ROCK — For Arkansas growers, gardeners, and homeowners, the ability to identify
plant health issues is critical to the success of their crop. The Arkansas Plant Health
Clinic, located in Fayetteville and supported by the Cooperative Extension Service,
serves these growers by providing resources to help solve plant disease problems.
The clinic’s Plant Disease Image Database, an online image library that lists hundreds
of plant diseases, has been recently updated by the University of Arkansas System
Division of Agriculture’s Information Technology department. The database is now available
on mobile devices.
“The database is more modern, and it’s easier to use,” said Karen Watts DiCicco, digital
and IT innovation manager for the Division of Agriculture. “You can zoom into the
images, and it looks completely different, with a whole new redesign.”
The Plant Health Clinic receives plant samples from every county in Arkansas. Sherrie
Smith, plant diagnostician for the clinic, said the clinic also has a permit from
the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service that allows the staff to receive samples
from anywhere in the continental United States.
“We look at a wide range of crops, anything from ‘what’s wrong with my lawn’ to ‘what’s
wrong with my granny’s rosebush’ to ‘what’s wrong in the soybean field’ from a grower
who has 5,000 acres of cropland,” Smith said. “Nearly 50 percent of all our samples
these days are ornamental trees and shrubs, because the ornamental business is huge.”
Smith said the clinic receives thousands of plant samples annually, the largest categories
of which are ornamental trees and shrubs, fruit and nut trees and vegetables and turf.
DiCicco said the Division of Agriculture’s application development team worked on
updating the Plant Disease Image Database over the last few months. It now has 20
plant categories from which a user can choose, and lists 218 unique plants by name,
with 824 individual photos in the database. This is because some plants may have several
diseases listed, such as the apple, which has 16 disease images, Smith said.
Smith said the database is a useful tool for growers, and she hopes it will direct
more people to contact the Plant Health Clinic or their county extension agent.
“Say that a master gardener gets in the database, and they identify a problem that
looks like what’s wrong with their iris or their peony based on the picture,” Smith
said. “In the database, if you look, it’ll say something like ‘iris bulb mites’ and
give a scientific name for the mite. So, if they think that what they’re seeing in
the picture looks like the plant, they can research that and get a massive amount
of information about that pest and what to do about it. They can also directly contact
us here at the clinic with questions about it.”
New entries are added to the database when the Plant Health Clinic finds a previously
unlisted disease, and existing entries are updated if the clinic is able to get a
better image of the disease.
Smith, who travels around the state with the clinic’s portable lab, said she always
encourages people to visit the Plant Disease Image Database and to check out the clinic’s
newsletters, which contain details about various plant diseases and how to treat them.
Both the database and the newsletter archive can be accessed at uaex.uada.edu/yard-garden/plant-health-clinic/.
To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension
Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division
of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uark.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture,
visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media contact: Rebekah Hallrkhall@uada.edu@RKHall_