PANHANDLE PERSPECTIVES: The Panhandle Research and Extension Center disease diagnostic lab

Robert M. Harveson, Extension Plant Pathologist
Panhandle R&E Center, Scottsbluff

Plant diseases are often a major yield-limiting factor to many crops grown in the Panhandle. So it is important for these diseases to be properly and rapidly identified, so farmers can implement control measures.

Because of my background and strong interest in disease diagnosis, I began a service in 1999 after arriving at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center with the purpose of identifying disease problems, from samples submitted to the plant pathology lab at the Center.

Western Sugar initially provided partial funding for the diagnostic lab, because in the first several years, about 75 percent of the samples submitted were from sugarbeet for diagnosing diseases such as rhizomania, Cercospora leaf spot, and Rhizoctonia and Aphanomyces root rots. In 2000, the diagnostic service was expanded to include any crop or plant species brought in to the lab.

Over the years the types of samples have varied. In addition to plant leaves, stems or roots, we have also tested soil samples for various diseases, beginning with rhizomania, a devastating virus that was transmitted to plant roots by a soil-borne fungus.

The complete article is available on the Panhandle Research & Extension Center web page.