University of Florida

Plant Pathology Guidelines for Master Gardeners

Contact: Dr. Richard Raid

Situation or Issue Identification

Master Gardeners are volunteers trained by the Florida Cooperative Extension Service to help disseminate horticultural information to our urban, homeowner clientele. Much of the activity of these volunteers centers on the so-called "walk-in" trade, where clientele arrive at the county office seeking help in identification and control of plant health problems. Plant diseases are particularly difficult to diagnose and most Master Gardeners can benefit from the expertise of professional plant pathologists in developing diagnostic skills geared to the peculiarities of their portion of the state.

Measurable or Potential Impact

Half day sessions on the principles of plant pathology, especially disease diagnosis, have been held for Master Gardener trainees in four counties in southeast Florida, once or twice a year for the past several years. Approximately, 480 volunteers have been trained, representing a potential 24,000 hours of volunteer service returned to Cooperative Extension. These volunteers have indicated strongly that they are much more comfortable handling plant health questions because of the exposure to these sessions. About 500 copies of a new publication, Disease Diagnosis Guidelines for Master Gardeners, have been distributed to target personnel.

Web Tutorial: Introduction

The word "pathology" comes from two Greek words, "pathos" (suffering) and "logos" (study). Therefore, plant pathology is the study of the suffering or diseases of plants.

This Web tutorial is a synopsis of a 3½ hour slide/discussion presentation that we have developed over the years in support of several county extension Master Gardener training classes. Our unit at the Everglades Research & Education Center (EREC) is primarily responsible for extension and research programs aimed at commercial vegetable farmers. Therefore the great majority of examples and pictures are from commercial vegetable situations. However, the principles of plant pathology are what is important. The basic concepts presented are applicable to all plants and all growing conditions, whether they be diseases in 300 acre tomato fields or individual hibiscus plants in a home landscape.

This section is strictly on plant diseases. Insect problems are covered in another unit of the Master Gardener training.

This tutorial is divided into modules (1 thru 9) for convenience and ease of learning. To get the most value out of this site, the modules should be taken in the following sequence:

  1. Non-Parasitic Disorders
  2. Parasitic Diseases & Plant Pathogens That Cause Them
  3. Symptoms Of Plant Diseases
  4. Signs Of The Pathogen
  5. Specific Symptoms & Signs Of Bacterial Diseases
  6. Symptoms Of Viral Diseases
  7. Plant Disease Control
  8. Chemical Methods For Disease Control
  9. Oh No! A Quiz

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