Most have heard the saying, “April showers bring May flowers.” Rainfall in April helps replenish plants as they enter into another growing season.
However, this precipitation also brings unwanted consequences to our landscapes: disease.
Fungal and bacterial diseases usually start popping up at the beginning of spring. For disease to occur, the following three components must be present: host, pathogen and environmental conditions that favor growth of the pathogen. With time, these factors lead to plant disease.
Most diseases require warming temperatures and plentiful moisture as environmental conditions to start growing and spreading.
The large amounts of spring rainfall and high humidity in the Augusta area have encouraged large amounts of fungal growth on our turf, shrubs, trees and vegetables.
If a diseased plant is found in the landscape, the best option for diagnosis and treatment is bring a fresh sample of some affected material to the extension office.
If this is not possible, an appointment may be made for a home visit to view the diseased plant.
However, many people are simply too busy to drop by the office or take the time with a home visit.
Thankfully, modern technology provides another option.
Digital pictures can be a very helpful tool in diagnosing plant issues via email.
Diagnosing plant disease through email can be a quick process, but it often depends on the quality and detail of the photos.
It is best to send at least four pictures of any damaged plant at different angles to capture the entire picture.
The first photo should capture the overall conditions. For example, showing an entire row of trees can indicate if a disease is affecting several trees or just certain branches of a single tree. Turf diseases will often affect a large area; therefore, a wide shot of the lawn will aid in diagnosis.
The second and third photos should show a close view of the problem area. A couple of shots of a single branch or a cluster of leaves will depict the size and location of diseased spots.
For turf disease, the photo should show the diseased area as well as a healthy area for contrast.
Also, the turf pictures are best when taken between 7 and 8 a.m. During this time of day, humidity is at its highest; the fungus will be actively growing in this favorable condition.
In both plant and turf photos, it’s also a good idea to include some object to help show the scale.
A pencil, ruler, or coin can be used.
Several photos that should also be included in the email submission are close-up shots of the diseased lesions. Many diseases will have distinct characteristics, such as white spores, dark spots, or oozing sap, which can help greatly with identification. Close-up pictures often display the fungal fruiting bodies, which can be essential in plant disease diagnosis.
Not all plant issues can be identified solely through photos, but it can be a good first step.
Many plant symptoms resemble disease, but they are actually caused by environmental factors. On-site diagnosis is usually required to solve these types of issues.
If diseased or insect-infested plants are found in the landscape and treatment suggestions are desired, send a few photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.