This is the time of the year when sample load for the clinic start to trail off. At the same time, personnel at the Plant Clinic are responding to request to do educational programs such as Master Gardener trainings,talks to professional and homeowner groups and continuing education programs for Pesticide License Applicators. This is also a crazy time for us to get as much as we can in the Plant Clinic to prepare for the coming Christmas Holidays (closing follow the Texas A&M University on-campus holiday schedule: 12/23/2011 – 01/01/2012). So if you are planning to send a sample in close to those dates, please call ahead to check for availability of the diagnostician-on-call. Also check the Plant Clinic calendar.
The past several weeks has had me running to several different meeting. Most notable was the National Plant Diagnostic Network meeting in Berkeley. It was interesting to note some of the new technologies for detection of pathogens. It struck me that many of these tools help us to identify the pathogen only. Many of these technologies are also limited. For example, test for a particular group of pathogen affecting a certain crop or testing for a group of viruses. It was still incumbent for a person to make the decision as to which test or detection method to use to best identify the possible pathogen. This realization gave me both a feeling of fear and comfort. Fear – that with the reliance of these tools, the “old-timey” practical knowledge of observation and logical analysis of cause-effect would be lost or eroded in the coming generations of plant pathologist, entomologist and agronomist. Comfort because those that chose to pursue the classical approaches to practical and applied science of agriculture/ horticulture/ plant sciences would do well for themselves as they will be a need for these people….hopefully.
While in the present, the Plant Clinic will continue to help educate the general public in Texas and beyond to the wonders of pest and pathogens of plants. The latest issue of First Detector Network News (November 2011 issue) has been posted and contain some interesting articles which are easy to read and informative. The highlight (in my opinion) is the news release and links to a “NEW” citrus pest ID tool designed to help our survey teams but is most useful to the general public too. This newsletter can be accessed at http://sepdn.org/newsletter.