SDSU Extension offers variety of services to answer horticulture & tree questions

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS – Spring may be behind schedule this year, but when it does arrive SDSU Extension is ready, says Rosie Nold, Ag & Natural Resources Program Director.

“Like all services SDSU Extension provides, when it comes to horticulture we have many resources for everyone – from the beginning gardener and green thumb; to those turning their passion for growing things into a business,” said Nold.

No matter the complexity of the question, if a South Dakotan is looking for answers to their horticulture and tree questions, SDSU Extension has a variety of ways they can get research-based answers. From online and call-in resources to an experienced team of SDSU Extension staff located throughout the state – SDSU Extension is dedicated to connecting gardeners to information they need this growing season.

“These resources help consumers find answers to their specific questions and also broadens their exposure to research-based information they may use today and into the future,” said Nold, outlining a few of the go-to resources and tools including;

iGrow is SDSU Extension’s online teaching platform. It provides 24/7 access to research-based information. Its “Ask an Expert” section allows the public to submit questions and receive answers from local and regional horticulture experts.


The toll-free service, AnswerLine connects callers to research-based information from Extension and Land Grant University staff. The AnswerLine number is 1-888-393-6336.

SDSU Plant Diagnostic Lab

By accepting many different sample types, the SDSU Plant Diagnostic Lab helps growers diagnose disease, insect and other problems that may plague their gardens.

“We’re maximizing the information that is available. Through these tools, our team provides resources and introduces South Dakotans to more in-depth information than one individual can offer,” Nold said.

SDSU Extension’s team of Field and State Horticulture Specialists continues to provide one-on-one, hands-on training through the Master Gardener program and workshops, like Gardening 101. This team includes staff focused in Consumer Horticulture and Specialty Crops/Commercial Horticulture.

“Simply put, SDSU Extension is focused on providing resources and research-based information for life-long learning,” Nold said.

Additional Horticulture Resources: For more in-depth analysis of horticulture-related problems, South Dakotans can send samples to the SDSU Diagnostic Clinic for a fee.

Here’s how: For Submission Guidelines or Questions: visit or contact the SDSU Diagnostic Clinic at or call 605-688-5545.

Physical Samples or Digital Photos of Plants or Insects: Contact info: SDSU Diagnostic Clinic, or call 605-688-5545.


· Physical samples – minimum sample fee $15.00

· Plant or insect identification (visual only): $15

· Visual and added microscopic examination: $20

· The above plus culturing: $40

Currently there are no charges for digital photo identifications. This is subject to change.

Types of physical samples:

· Forestry samples: Physical samples and/or a digital photo are accepted from within the state: Fill out the specimen ID form and send with the sample and/or digital photo. Complete Specimen ID Form and send with the sample and/or digital photo. See for a detailed explanation on preparation of samples.

· Horticulture samples: Physical samples or digital photos of annuals, perennials, vegetables, house plants, etc.: The physical sample and/or photo should show both symptomatic areas and healthy areas. Include completed Specimen ID Form. See for a detailed explanation on preparation.

· Insect Identification: The lab accepts the actual insect and/or a digital photo. Complete the Specimen ID form and send with the sample and/or digital photo.

· Turf samples: Physical samples showing symptomatic and healthy plants: Use a spade or core cutter to dig a sample that keeps the soil intact so the roots can be examined with the tops. Please fill out the specimen ID form and send with the sample. See for detailed explanation on sample preparation.

Sample Submission

Physical Samples: The ‘Specimen Identification Form’ found at the web address below must be completed and submitted with the sample. Accurate results can only be achieved if instructions for submission are carefully followed.

Submission Guidelines & Forms:, SDSU Plant Diagnostic Clinic, SDSU Plant Science Dept., Box 2108, SPSB 153, Brookings SD 57007.

Digital Photos: Complete the Specimen ID Form or include the following information with the submission of the digital photo:

· Date taken

· Plant name and variety/cultivar (if known)

· Location (county, town)

· Chemical history (any relevant fertilizer, herbicide, insecticide or fungicide use)

· When symptoms were first noticed

· Detailed description on problem and cultural practices (water, sun, plant age, etc.)