Free app offers accessible way to identify plant problems

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Agricultural specialists and others who need to identify plants, plant diseases, insect pests and other plant problems have a new mobile application resource created by eight university labs, including Purdue's Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory and Ohio State's C. Wayne Ellet Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic.

The Plant Diagnostic Sample Submission app includes submission forms with customized questions about agronomic crops, weeds, vegetables, houseplants and more. It was developed by IN3 (, located in the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette.

"The app is for anyone who wants to send a sample," said Tom Creswell, PPDL director. "It guides users through the right questions for their submissions."

It allows users to take and send digital photos and plant-problem descriptions to any of the eight participating labs. In addition to Purdue and Ohio State, the university diagnostic labs involved are Alabama Cooperative Extension, University of Connecticut, University of Illinois Extension, University of Kentucky, Michigan State University and University of New Hampshire.

When submitting samples, users answer questions about the specific types of plant problems they need to identify, such as farm, household or lawn.

App"If you're sending a sample from your home lawn, the form will contain questions specific to turf and lawn," Creswell said. "But there's a different set of questions if your plant submission is vegetable- or greenhouse-related."

Submissions are sent to the labs using the iPhone or iPad built-in mail app, which requires an email account on the device.

PPDL will charge normal sample-handling fees for samples submitted through the app. Those fees are $11 for Indiana samples and $22 for out-of-state submissions. However, if a physical sample is needed as a follow-up, there is no additional fee.

Each of the other diagnostic labs has specific fee policies, so users should check with their preferred lab for details.

The PPDL accepts submissions from the 48 contiguous states. International submissions are not accepted. Right now Kentucky and New Hampshire laboratories will only accept samples via the app from Extension educators and specialists who have a proper passcode.

The app is available for free download in the iTunes store. For more information, visit

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