January 2023: Plant Disease Diagnostics Clinic Services for 2023

Turquoise Microscope Icon2023 has arrived, and I’m already thinking ahead to the deluge of samples that are likely to arrive at the UW Plant Disease Diagnostics Clinic (PDDC) this summer.  PDDC personnel continue their efforts to balance providing high quality services to the public with keeping clinic staff and clients healthy and safe.  The following are current guidelines for submitting samples and tapping into the PDDC’s outreach programs and resources.  Our world is ever evolving, and there will likely be changes in how the PDDC functions as 2023 unfolds.  Be sure to check this document routinely for updates.

Plant Disease Diagnostics

The PDDC continues to offer digital diagnoses, and I really encourage you to submit digital photos of your plant disease problem before submitting a physical sample.  Use the PDDC online form for photo submissions.  In some situations, I will be able to provide a diagnosis and management recommendations based on your photos.  There is a $20 fee for this service.  If I cannot make a diagnosis from your photos, I will not charge the fee, but I will use the photos to provide you suggestions on what sort of physical sample to submit as a follow-up.  Note that if I charge a digital fee and you end up submitting a follow-up physical sample, the digital fee will be credited towards any lab fees for the physical sample.

You can submit physical diagnostic samples either by mail or in person.  If you opt to drop off a sample in person, PDDC staff will not likely be available for in-person consultations.  While I am committed to providing personalized service to my clients whenever possible, the PDDC is short-staffed at this time, and PDDC staff members need to concentrate their efforts on sample processing in order to keep up with incoming samples and provide timely diagnoses.

The PDDC provides an area for physical sample drop off in the hall outside the clinic.  Check for the large, black, wood shelving unit in the alcove just down the hall from the clinic door.  You can drop your sample(s) there.  Be sure to fill out a submission form to include with each sample.  You can find forms in the wall pocket to the left of the clinic door.  The form is also available online if you would like to print and fill it out ahead of time to speed up the submission process.  Please print neatly on the form and make sure to include your complete mailing address (with zip code), your phone number and your email address.  If you are a commercial client, please include the name of the business that you work for.  At this time, I am emailing virtually all reports and invoices.  If you do not have email however, just let me know, and I definitely can and will send out a hard copy of your report and invoice.


I will be providing more in-person plant disease presentations in 2023.  However, due to the cost of traveling (both in terms of time and monetary expense), I will continue to encourage clients to consider virtual presentations (e.g., via Zoom) whenever possible and practical.  If you are interested in having me provide a presentation for a group that you are affiliated with, click here to check out a list of topics that I routinely speak on.  Email me at pddc@wisc.edu or call me at (608) 262-2863 to discuss what talk might be best suited for your audience and to schedule a date and time.

In addition in 2023, I will be sponsoring monthly Zoom presentations on a range of plant disease topics.  Click here to check out these presentations and sign up if you are interested.

Online Resources

Via the PDDC website, I will continue to provide weekly updates of my PDDC diagnoses (the Wisconsin Disease Almanac), as well as web articles (hopefully monthly, but frequency will depend on clinic sample volume).  Also check out the PDDC website for the UW Plant Disease Facts (formerly the plant disease-related titles of the University of Wisconsin Garden Facts).

I will be recording the monthly PDDC plant disease talks (mentioned above) and will eventually be working these into online playlists (with full transcripts to fulfill UW-Madison accessibility requirements) that I will make available on my nascent YouTube channel (@UWPDDC).  My Fundamentals of Plant Diseases presentation is currently available as a playlist on my YouTube channel.

Outreach teasers

I am currently working on several new outreach projects.

Limerick Book

First is my book, Limerickettsia:  A Plant Pathologist’s Book of Verse.  This is a book of 52 plant disease-related limericks with supplemental prose discussions of the diseases and original artwork.  I am in the final throes of completing this and getting it printed.  April 3, 2023 update:  Now complete!!  Click here for details.

Plant Disease Medallions

I am also working on the UW Plant Disease Facts Medallions project.  For each of the 130 fact sheets in the UW Plant Disease Facts series, I have created electronic medallions and quizzes.  Eventually, you will be able to read one of the fact sheets and take the corresponding quiz.  If you get a score of 100%, you will be emailed the corresponding medallion.  Collect them all!  Hopefully, this project will be launched to the public this winter or early spring.  April 3, 2023 update:  Now complete!!  Click here for details.

Building Block Plant Diseases

Finally, I am developing building block kits (akin to LEGO kits) of common plant diseases (with supplemental educational materials).  I have designed models for blossom end rot, powdery mildew, downy mildew of grape, apple scab, silver leaf, Armillaria root disease, and (most recently) common smut of corn.  I am now working on getting the blocks for the kits 3-D printed so that I will have prototypes available for view by this spring.  October 27, 2023 update:  The blossom end rot building block kit is set to debut in early December at the Monona Public Library courtesy of the UW-Madison Department of Plant Pathology’s graduate student outreach group, What’s Eating My Plants (WEMP).

Need information on the PDDC? 

As new PDDC resources become available, I will announce their availability via Twitter (@UWPDDC) and Facebook (@UWPDDC), or via my clinic listserv, UWPDDCLearn (email me to subscribe to this).  In addition, you can always contact me by phone at (608) 262-2863 or email at pddc@wisc.edu.

Have a great 2023 everyone!