The PDDC was a busy place in 2017.
Clinic staff processed 1445 samples, with samples coming from every county in Wisconsin other than Lincoln, Menominee and Price Counties. The PDDC also received samples from FL, IA, IL, ME, MI, MN, MO, NY, PA, SD, TX and WA. I personally also provided digital disease diagnostics via email and through the UW-Extension PlantDOC online diagnostic website. I also continued with my interaction with members of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers via their Facebook page, providing plant disease expertise for the group. And of course, the phone rang off the hook for much of the year as I talked with folks about their plant disease problems.
In addition to my clinic duties, I also spent a fair amount of time providing plant disease outreach around the state. In 2017, I did 91 talks/presentations/workshops visiting 19 Wisconsin counties in the process. My biggest outreach event (in terms of time and effort) was, as always, Wisconsin Public Television’s Garden Expo. During my three days at the event, I gave two talks on diseases of herbaceous ornamentals and helped answer questions with Lisa Johnson of Dane County UW-Extension to a standing-room-only crowd of almost 300 at Larry Meiller’s Garden Talk session. I also had a steady stream of visitors to the PDDC booth all three days and pretty much talked with and answered questions for folks the entire time. I distributed 3,024 University of Wisconsin Garden Facts fact sheets, 850 brochures/informational handouts of various kinds and 99 handouts for my talks. Across all of my talks/presentations/workshops in 2017, I interacted with just over 300,000 people. A big thanks goes out to Larry Meiller for having me on his radio show which has a HUGE listenership.
On a personal note, I had wonderful opportunity to visit New Zealand and eastern Australia for three weeks in late November and early December (their late spring). I had to smile as I walked off the plane in Auckland, NZ to be greeted by a warning poster about brown marmorated stink bug, which has yet to arrive in the country. On my first full day in NZ, I took a beautiful ferry ride from Auckland to Waiheke Island to hike, only to find a warning sign about the recently described Phytophthora agathidicida which is causing dieback in native kauri trees. There was even a station at the entry point of the hiking area with disinfectant to use on my shoes! And as I traveled around the country, I noted some very stunning invasive plants. Common or Scotch broom was blooming everywhere in the mountains around Queenstown, and lupines covered acres and acres of the valleys as I drove from Queenstown to Christchurch. Both were in full, spectacular bloom. And on a helicopter trip to Milford Sound, I noticed huge areas on the mountainsides where all of the trees were brown and dead. These turned out to be nonnative pines that were being killed in an attempt to reestablish native flora. What a trip!!
Many thanks to Susan Lueloff (the PDDC Assistant Diagnostician and molecular diagnostician extraordinaire), John Lake (my hard working student hourly and lab cleaner supreme), Ann Joy (she of the nimble data entry fingers) and Dixie Lang (webmistress and database guru) for helping me keep my sanity and making 2017 such a fun year. Now onward to 2018! Let’s see what the new year has to offer.