Plant Diagnostic Laboratory

Program Leader: Abby Beissinger, Assistant Extension Educator

In collaboration with the UConn Home & Garden Education Center, 507 samples were processed during 2020. Samples submitted included fruit and vegetable, nursery, and greenhouse (both ornamental and vegetable) crops, and were accepted from both home garden and commercial clients. Samples came from 111 Connecticut towns, as well as Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Diagnostic services included plant and insect identification, plant disease diagnosis, and abiotic disorder diagnosis. Image sample submissions to the Plant Sample Submission App were used by both professional and home garden clients. Fees of $20.00 per sample were covered by a USDA NIFA CPPM grant for 55 samples from Connecticut commercial growers. Monthly diagnostic summary reports were sent to 95 plant pathologists, diagnosticians, administrators, and interested growers in the region.

The lab was approved by the CT Department of Agriculture to accept hemp leaves, stalks, and stems for diagnostic purposes. Flowers can be accepted only if they have undergone THC testing. Hemp testing was a new service offered to growers beginning summer 2020.

A new hot water seed treatment was launched to support growers and home gardeners in the region, in partnership with UConn Extension Vegetable Specialist, Shuresh Ghimire.

Beissinger made five diagnostic videos, wrote nine articles and blog posts, and presented at eleven workshops.

The UConn Plant Diagnostic Lab is part of the National Plant Diagnostic Network, a Department of Homeland Security funded network of diagnostic labs throughout the country. During 2020, Beissinger regularly collaborated with diagnostic labs and diagnosticians to help solve difficult plant health issues. Abby Beissinger left UConn in August 2020. The program was covered by Matt DeBaco on a part-time basis through the rest of the 2020.