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October 4, 2012

'Tree Doctor' app can help homeowners diagnose problems

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University scientists aren't quite making house calls, but a new iPhone app can put their knowledge about tree disorders in the palm of anyone's hand.

The Purdue Tree Doctor app can help homeowners, landscapers, master gardeners, nurseries, arborists and others quickly diagnose problems with their trees. The app is the first for sale through The Education Store, Purdue Extension's resource for educational materials.

"We're Extension specialists, and our job is to give good information to people who need it," said Cliff Sadof, a professor of Entomology and one of the specialists who developed the app. "If we want people to use our information, we need to give it to them in media they use. Having an app that we can update regularly means people have the most up-to-date information at their fingertips."

The app allows users to search by type of tree, insect or disease depending on what they're seeing. It covers more than 175 plant disorders found on most flowering, shade and conifer trees planted in the Midwest and North Atlantic regions of the United States.

The app uses Beckerman and Sadof's library of 1,100 high-resolution photos to direct users to a correct diagnosis in just a few short steps

"It's a very thorough, robust resource," said Janna Beckerman, an associate professor of botany and plant pathology, and another specialist who developed the app. "Even if you go online, you won't likely find all this information in one place."

Once an issue is diagnosed, the app provides possible management options, beginning with cultural practices that prevent or at least minimize the problem, effective biological controls, and followed by a list of pesticides that can be useful when needed. The app also will provide updates on invasive pests as they become known to Purdue Extension specialists.

Sadof and Beckerman said that the information they provided was reviewed by peers to ensure it is accurate, and does not recommend name-brand chemicals or products to treat tree problems.

The app costs $1.99 and is available at The Education Store – http://www.the-education-store.com

The app can be found directly at: https://mdc.itap.purdue.edu/item.asp?item_number=ID-452-APP

Writer: Brian Wallheimer, 765-496-2050, bwallhei@purdue.edu

Sources: Cliff Sadof, 765-494-5983, csadof@purdue.edu

Janna Beckerman, 765-494-4628, jbeckerm@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
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