Diagnostic Clinics 2014 Year End Wrap-up

by Julia Turney, MG Class of 2004, and Kate Yturri, MG Class of 2013

Vintage Microscope 2Another successful Diagnostic Clinic season has drawn to a close. A big thank-you to all of the Master Gardeners who participated in the Diagnostic Clinic this year! Ervine Munroe, Kate Yturri and Julia Turney coordinated the clinic; Sandy Johnson and Diana Brooks logged in samples and made sure our records were in good order. Special thanks to Kris Bayas for clinic support. New tasks we completed to help the clinic work efficiently were setting up the book reference list, creating written procedures for equipment set-up, and a schedule of educational talks. The written procedures have made clinic setup run smoothly and allow anyone to step in and help.

Approximately 150 samples were submitted to the clinic. Almost half of those samples were submitted during the weeks of May 15, June 1 and August 7th. We’ll be looking at past year sample numbers to see if we can predict when the largest number of samples are submitted so that we can request additional help at those clinics in 2015.

There were some very interesting plant samples this year where we all had a chance to learn about a new insect or plant disease problem. A red flowering currant sample had Wooly aphids making large marshmallow-like growths in which to live. We advised the owner to spray them off with a high-pressure stream of water and diligently keep them in check.

Pearleaf blister mite galls.

Pearleaf blister mite galls.

Pear tree leaves covered with 1/8-1/4 inch reddish, raised blisters were noted to have tiny white to yellowish eriophyid mites inside them. These mites feed on leaves and fruit. The blisters on the leaves are caused by mites feeding inside the leaf tissue. As the leaf dies the blisters turn brown to black. The fruit gets sunken, reddened areas in the skin. The mites arise from the bud scales on the tree where they overwinter. The owner was advised to remove affected leaves and provide good healthy culture for the tree including cleaning the area around the base of the tree. We also strongly encouraged a proper and timely spray schedule.

A beautiful spiky, pink 2 inch round structure found on a rose bush was the home of a tiny cynipid wasp larvae. The galls usually occur on the surface of leaves but can occur on stems. The larvae overwinter in the gall and emerge the next spring. They are harmless to the plant.

Rose gall,

Rose gall.

The wet spring adversely affected island Madrone trees and many of the fungal diseases noted in 2010 have come back. Three major types of disease affect madrone: foliage diseases, branch dieback and trunk canker diseases, and root diseases. Oregon Forest Health Fact Sheet 1619e is an excellent summary of problems facing Madrones.

Swiss Needle Cast (SNC) appeared on Orcas this year and homeowners noticed the rapid yellowing of needles. SNC is a foliage disease that is specific to Douglas fir and is caused by the fungal pathogen Phaeocryptopus gaeumannii. Symptoms include yellow needles and decreased needle retention or “casting” of the needles. Jenny Glass at the WSU station in Puyallup noted that most of the Douglas fir samples she sees have the pathogen. The Pacific Northwest Disease Management Handbook has a discussion of the disease and management options.

Another fun aspect of the Diagnostic Clinics was educational talks by Ervine, Kate, Julia and Sandy. These short presentations highlighted information on insects, specific issues with Madrone and soil among other topics. Putting these presentations together gave us a chance to learn about new topics and fulfilled continuing education requirements for Master Gardeners.

We hope you’ll plan to attend the clinics next year. You don’t need to be an “expert” in plant ID or diseases; we all learn new things each week and help each other with diagnoses. (We don’t always figure out what the plant problem is, and will send them such cases on to WSU-Puyallup.) If you have ideas for how to improve the clinic, topics you’d like covered in one of the talks or if you’d like to be part of putting the clinic on, please email Kris Bayas at kbayas @ wsu.edu, and she will forward the information on to us. See you in the spring!

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