Plant samples are the most efficient way to detect disease and pest issues. Plant samples will display infection symptoms on fruit, leaves, stems, and roots that coincide with a specific disease and/or pest. Providing your local extension agent with a plant sample whether it is a physical or digital sample, can play a key role in the plant diagnostic process. Here is a UF/IFAS EDIS publication with some steps to follow for submitting a quality plant sample to your extension agent:
With a variety of plant diseases and pest, a good plant sample is the missing link in identifying the problem, the cause, and a solution. So, can a soil test indicate a plant issue? The answer to this question is not 100%. A soil test will specify the current amount of potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, manganese, and the soil pH level, remember our macro- and micro- nutrients. The results of a soil test will determine how much lime or fertilizer is needed and your local extension agent can provide you recommendations on amending your nutrient levels to be more favorable for your desired crop. A plant and soil sample can go hand in hand if the macro- and micro- nutrient levels from the soil test, point out a nutrient deficiency in your plant. A nutrient deficiency can also be determined based on other symptoms displayed. If you are experiencing a plant issue, submit a plant sample instead of a soil sample.
Does plant material only make up a plant sample? No, a plant sample can be inclusive of the following:
- Photos of the concerned area (up close and clear).
- Physical plant material of concerned area/plant and healthy area/plant.
- Sample submitted in a timely manner. Submit plant samples of concerns that have been occurring for 7-30 days, this allows time for corrective measures to be implemented. The goal is to identify the problem early on for the best treatment plan.
- Client information. THIS is a fundamental piece of the plant diagnostic mystery. Information gathered from the homeowner on chemical applications, irrigation conditions, when symptoms first occurred, planting conditions, etc. paint the picture for extension agents to determine a suitable research-based recommendation.
Got a sample? Bring it in to your local extension office, we would love to help you out!
Here are a few links to UF/IFAS EDIS publications that will provide more details on plant sampling and its importance:
- Sample Submission Guide for Plant Diagnostic Clinics
- Soil and Plant Tissue Testing
- 10 Tips for Collecting a Good Sample
- UF/IFAS Plant Diagnostic Form