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Introducing UMN Extension’s newest program: Digital Crop Doc

This article was written by Angie Peltier, University of Minnesota Extension educator in crops and Phyllis Bongard, educational content development and communications specialist.

While a human pathogen has changed many of the ways that those in agriculture interact with one another this year, the threat from plant pathogens remains unchanged. If specific weather conditions favor the interaction between a susceptible variety or hybrid and a plant pathogen, disease will occur.

This summer, COVID-19 precautions have limited how UMN Extension personnel can interact with growers to diagnose diseases of agronomic crops in Minnesota. Because the need for this ‘detective work’ still exists, members of the UMN Extension crops team have launched a new online program called MN Digital Crop Doc (, Figure 1).

Figure 1. UMN Extension's Digital Crop Doc website.

How does Digital Crop Doc work?

If you have disease developing in one of your fields and are wondering what it might be or you’re just looking for confirmation, the UMN Extension crops team would like to help you with disease diagnosis for several crops:
  • Corn
  • Soybean
  • Small grains
  • Sugar beet
  • Alfalfa
Figure 2. Online form for Digital Crop Doc.
When you’re out scouting, you can simply take photos of disease symptoms with your smartphone and submit them to the Digital Crop Doc website.

Along with the photos, the website houses an online form (Figure 2) that asks you for those context clues that in a typical year we would be able to gather by field observations or by asking you questions.

Once you submit the form and photos, it’s immediately sent to Extension employees that will work hard to provide a timely visual diagnosis. One of our team members will contact you with a diagnosis, a request for more information or a suggestion to submit the samples to a plant disease clinic.

How will I be contacted?

All information that could personally identify a field or the person submitting the form will remain confidential. Personal information will only be used to contact you with a diagnosis.

Are there other benefits?

Digital Crop Doc submissions may help Extension identify new or emerging diseases that could better guide our research and educational programs to meet the needs of Minnesota’s crop producers.

Thanks to the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council for their support in making this program possible.

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