Raj Singh: The Plant Doctor

Many Louisiana gardeners and horticulture professionals know Raj Singh simply as “the plant doctor.”

It’s not just a nickname. Singh, an associate professor who oversees the LSU AgCenter Plant Diagnostic Center, holds a doctor of plant medicine degree from the University of Florida. And in his lab on the LSU campus, he sees countless “patients” — ailing plants that have been mailed to him by concerned homeowners and commercial growers around Louisiana.

Singh analyzes samples of everything from ornamental horticulture crops to turfgrass to vegetables that are “sick” and whose growers need advice on how to take care of them.

“It’s very, very important to find out if it’s a pathogen or an insect pest or an abiotic disorder so that you can tell the grower or the homeowner what is the root cause of their problem,” he said. Pinpointing the cause is crucial to identifying a successful solution.

In 2019, Singh and his team analyzed 822 physical plant samples and 217 images of plant problems that were sent in digitally.

Each submission is unique — different types of plants afflicted with different combinations of different problems. Singh likens opening packages containing samples to Christmas morning.

“I don’t know what kind of gift I’m going to get,” he said, which keeps his job exciting.

He enjoys the process of investigating what is wrong with plants and offering their growers recommendations on what to do.

It’s fulfilling to know that “I’m able to help them solve their problems,” Singh said.

Information on how to submit samples to the Plant Diagnostic Center is available by visiting www.lsuagcenter.com/plantdiagnostics or calling 225-578-4562.

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Plant doctor Raj Singh, who oversees the LSU AgCenter Plant Diagnostic Center, is pictured with boxwoods in his lab. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter

1/13/2020 5:02:00 PM
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