In Louisiana, millions of dollars are lost every year in crop yield and quality to plant diseases, insect pests and competition from weeds. In addition to this direct loss, increased production costs due to management of diseases, insects and weeds result in economic hardships. Plant problems caused by different biotic (plant diseases, insect pests or nematodes) and abiotic (environmental extremes, nutrient deficiencies or chemical phytotoxicities) agents may exhibit similar symptoms, or those caused by similar agents may show different symptoms. Misdiagnosis and delayed identification of these problems may add to an increase in cost of production and a decrease in profits. Therefore, effective management of plant diseases and pests starts with accurate and rapid identification.
The mission of the Plant Diagnostic Center at the LSU AgCenter is to provide accurate and rapid diagnosis of plant health problems and to recommend best management practices to solve these problems. The
Plant Diagnostic Center is one-stop shopping for all plant health problems and provides services for ornamentals, vegetables, fruits, agronomic crops, trees and turfgrass. In addition to providing routine diagnostic services, the center is involved in detection, testing, surveying and extension outreach of high impact plant pathogens and pests.
Currently, the center is involved with the following pathogens and pests of significant importance to Louisiana agriculture such as, Citrus canker, Citrus greening, Texas Phoenix palm decline, Boxwood dieback, Rose rosette disease, Bacterial leaf scorch of blueberry, loquat, sweet olives, olives and tea; Bacterial leaf spot of crape myrtle, lilac chastetree; and Bacterial stem gall of loropetalums.
The Diagnostic Center is actively involved in reporting new plant diseases from Louisiana and participates in delivering educational programs about newly detected plant problems. The Plant Diagnostic Center is a service of the LSU AgCenter and is supported primarily by the Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology. The Diagnostic center is a member of the National Plant Diagnostic Network and the National Clean Plant Network and is directed by Dr. Raj Singh, an assistant professor and state plant diagnostics specialist in the Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology.