Plant Health Clinic
About the Clinic •
Where Are We Located?
Plant Samples •
Our Staff •
Despite all of the tender loving care that you give your plants, they may get
sick for various reasons. Accurate plant disease identification is the
first step in planning an effective disease control program to preserve or
maintain a healthy plant. Some diseases may be the result of a living
microorganism attacking the plant or it may be from an adverse growing
environment. Diagnosis of plant ailments is an art and a science in which
improvement results from practice. There is no substitute for the
experience gained in disease diagnosis.
There are literally hundreds of diseases that attack plants in Arkansas and
your local county Extension agent can identify many of them. But don't
worry if it is rare or unusual, we have back up for our agents. The Plant
Disease Diagnostic Clinic at Lonoke, is the next step in the identification of
your diseases. If the county agent is unable to identify the "culprit", he
will send your plant sample along with some background information to the clinic
at Lonoke. Once received, Extension plant disease diagnostician Sherrie
will get to work on it. The clinic evaluates all types of plants ranging
from agricultural row crops, to sod production to home fruits and vegetables, to
the potted plant on your deck. This is currently a free service to the
residents of Arkansas.
About the Clinic
The Plant Health Clinic provides routine plant disease diagnosis for the
state of Arkansas. Out-of-state plant samples are also evaluated on an
as-needed basis. The main objectives of the clinic are: (1) Provide an
accurate diagnosis of all manner of plant problems in an expedient manner, and
(2) serve as an information source for Extension personnel, commercial growers,
and homeowners regarding plant disease and insects topics. The clinic
opened in June 1992 and is housed in the University of Arkansas, Lonoke
Agricultural Extension and Research Center. This central location provides
a much-needed service to agricultural producers and home gardeners. The
clinic is for all plants--from row crops, to sod production to home fruits and
vegetables, to the potted plant on your deck, and is currently a free service to
Plant disease diagnosis is both an art and science and often involves
solving a mystery. The more information available about the sample, the
quicker and more accurate the diagnosis will be. Correct diagnosis relies
on the quality of the sample that is sent in and a completed information sheet
(AGRI-420). This form is available in each county office. The
purpose for accurate, rapid diagnosis is that the grower has a better chance of
managing the problem and, more importantly, preventing the problem in the
Extension specialists in Entomology, Weed Science, Agronomy, and Horticulture
assist in diagnosis. Other Extension Plant Pathology colleagues
include: Dr. Stephen Vann, Extension Urban Plant Pathologist (Little Rock State
Office), Dr. Rick Cartwright (UA Fayetteville campus), Cliff Coker (Southeast
Research and Extension Center at Monticello), and Dr. Terry Kirkpatrick
(Southwest Research and Extension Center at Hope). The clinic often
collaborates with other plant pathology and horticulture staff members located
on the main campus at Fayetteville.
Vegetables, ornamentals, trees, and row crops constitute the majority of
samples sent in for diagnosis, however the clinic also evaluates fruits, nuts
and turf. Average turn around time is one to three days after the sample
We encourage samples to be submitted from the county Extension offices with
an accompanying submission form AGRI-420, however samples may be sent direct
from the client. Walk-in samples are also accepted. If you do
suspect a plant disease, carry the sample to your local Extension office.
In many instances one of the Extension agents may be able to diagnose the
problem in the office. No charge is levied for disease diagnostic services
for Arkansas residents. Out -of-state residents should call for
Diagnostic specimen information is stored in a computer database. An
annual summary report is prepared and made available to Extension offices,
university personnel, and other interested individuals.
The Plant Health Clinic is also very active in conducting educational
programs throughout the state. It not only provides a diagnostic service,
but also serves as an important vehicle in knowledge transfer relating to
For more information about the Plant Health Clinic, please contact:
Sherrie Smith, Plant Disease Diagnostician
Where Are We Located?
The Plant Health Clinic is located in Fayetteville, Arkansas at:
2601 N. Young Ave.
Fayetteville, AR 72704
Submitting Plant Samples
(1) Submit only freshly collected specimens. If possible collect several
specimens showing a progression of symptoms. Keep specimens refrigerated until
(2) Where specific plant parts are affected (leaf spots, root rots, fruit rots,
flower blights, stem cankers), submit the affected part in as many stages of the
disease as are showing. If practical, submit the whole plant. Enclose specimen
in a plastic bag. Do not add additional moisture, Additional moisture will speed
(3) For plants showing wilting, yellowing, stunting or general decline, collect
the entire plant including the root system. Dig the plant carefully so as to
disturb the root system as little as possible. Shake away excess soil. Do not
wash soil from the root system. Enclose the root system in a plastic bag and
seal it at the base of the plant stem to prevent soil spillage. Then enclose the
entire plant in another plastic bag and seal. Do not add additional moisture.
(4) For leaf spots, submit leaves showing various stages of infection. If
possible, send twigs or branches with leaves still attached. Enclose leaves in a
plastic bag. Do not add additional moisture.
(5) For lawn and turf disease, submit a 3-4 inch diameter plug taken where the
healthy and diseased areas meet so the sample will contain both diseased and
healthy turf. Take the plug 2-3 inches deep and include the adhering soil.
Enclose plugs in a plastic bag. Do not add additional moisture.
Shipping Plant Samples
(1) Use sturdy packaging to protect sample from damage during shipment. Paper
towels or crumpled newspaper should be used as a cushion inside the shipping
(2) Overnight shipping is preferred, but if regular mail is used, send the
sample early in the week. Late-week mailings run the risk of sitting in the post
office over the weekend.
** The Plant Health Clinic encourages samples to be submitted through
the local county Extension office where a AGRI-420 (plant submission form) can
accompany the sample. This form is available in each county office. The Plant
Health Clinic also accepts walk-in and direct mail-in samples from clients. For
information contact: Sherrie Smith (501) 676-3124.
Macroscopic/Microscopic Evaluation and lab culture
Fescue Endophyte Exam
Elisa tests available for virus identification:
Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus- Wheat
Wheat Spindle Streak Mosaic Virus- Wheat
Soil-Borne Wheat Mosaic- Wheat
Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus- Tomato
Tomato Mosaic Virus-Tomato
Tomato Spotted Wilt/ Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus- Impatiens
Soybean Mosaic Virus- Soybeans
Soil samples are processed in the nematology laboratory at the Southwest
Research and Extension Center in Hope. For further information contact Dr. Terry
Kirkpatrick, nematologist at 870-777-9702.
Ask the Experts
If you would like to ask a specific question to our experts, send your question
to the appropriate email address below.
Sherri Smith, MSc, Plant
Disease Diagnostician - Program Associate Plant Pathologist
Dr. Rick Cartwright,
Plant Health Clinic Director, Extension Plant Pathologist
Leah Johnson, Logistics Secretary, Plant Health Clinic