Accurate identification of plant pathogens and insect pests allows us to recommend the most pest-specific and effective science-based management options possible. Our aims with correct pest identification are to maintain plant health while minimizing our environmental impact and protecting our natural resources. Thank you for choosing the Plant Pest Lab of the Soil, Plant and Pest Center to solve your plant pest problems!
This is for plant disease diagnostics; we cannot confirm herbicide damage.
Resources: UT Entomology and Plant Pathology “Redbook”
- Give complete information on submission sheet.
- Send generous amounts of material. Enclose plant material in plastic bags; do not add water to any sample; do not mix several host species in a single bag; avoid loose soil.
- Send specimens immediately after collecting. If holdover periods are encountered, keep specimen(s) cold. Mail packages to arrive on weekdays (Monday through Friday) rather than during a weekend or holiday.
- If general decline or dying of plants is observed, send whole plants showing early symptoms, with roots and adjacent soil intact. Dig up carefully. If a field crop, send several plants. Dead plants are useless for examination.
- When not possible to send whole plants, always send generous samples of above-ground portions (showing early symptoms), at least a pint of soil, and a good handful of feeder roots. This especially applies to large ornamentals, shrubbery, evergreens, and small trees. Be sure to enclose all materials in plastic bags.
- When localized infections, such as cankers, leaf spots, and rots, are involved, send specimens representing early and moderate stages of disease. For cankers, include healthy portions from above and below disease area.
- Dead plants, material that is dry or decomposing on arrival, and specimens arriving without necessary information and payment cannot be processed.
- Samples used to be preserved in alcohol, but that is a shipping hazard. County offices have or can order propylene glycol vials from the Center for safe shipping. Please contact your county office for these safe shipping vials.
- Place sample in vial, and protect vial by placing newspaper around vial. Place vial in a padded envelope or sturdy box for shipping.
- Insect samples are $15.00 for identification.
- When the disease is active, collect a cup-cutter sized plug (4″ diameter) that is 3 – 4 inches deep from the edge of the patch or affected area.
- Wrap the plug in newspaper or paper towels and secure with tape.
- Ship overnight or bring immediately to the Center.
- There is a $30 charge for each plug submitted for disease identification.
- Collect samples prior to fungicide applications.
- April through June is the best season of the year to collect tall fescue for endophyte analysis.
- Send tall fescue only. If you are unsure of the identity of the grass, ask your local Extension agent for help.
- A mature fescue plant is composed of a number of shoots called tillers. Collect one tiller from at least 30 fescue plants scattered throughout the pasture.
- Cut the tiller at ground level; do not remove leaves from the tiller (shoot). Do not send soil or roots.
- Place tillers in a plastic bag and ship to the Soil, Plant and Pest Center.
Frequently asked questions:
- Question: My plant is dying. What should I bring in for testing?
- A: A whole plant is always ideal for testing. If a large tree or shrub, a handful of fine feeder roots is sufficient. A branch with both symptomatic and healthy tissue is required for accurate analysis. Completely dead plants are useless for analysis.
- Question: Can you test for herbicides?
- Answer: No. The plant pest diagnostic lab cannot test for herbicide residue. We can only rule out plant pathogens or insects pests as causes of disease. Please visit the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) website to file a pesticide complaint.
- Question: Can you tell me if there is a disease in my soil?
- Answer: No. We currently require root tissue to confirm the presence of disease causing soil borne pathogens.