A monthly e-newsletter from UMass Extension for landscapers, arborists, and other Green Industry professionals. To read individual sections of the message, click on the section headings below to expand the content: Hot Topics Nicholas Brazee from the UMass Extension Diagnostics Lab provided an update from the USDA Multistate Research Project: Eastern White Pine Health and Responses to Environmental Changes at the UMass Community Tree Conference on March 7th. The following are some highlights of that research. Needle blight (caused by several fungal pathogens) and branch and trunk cankering (caused by Caliciopsis pinea) continues to weaken and kill eastern white pines in forest settings throughout eastern North America. Research from Georgia has identified the eastern white pine bast scale, a scale insect native to the northeast that feeds on fluids from the phloem tissue, may be responsible for an increase in the incidence of Caliciopis. Research from New Hampshire has shown that white pines suffering from needle blight resorb significantly less nitrogen compared to healthy needles during senescence. (Note: Trees and shrubs will "take back" nitrogen prior to leaf/needle shed so they may conserve and reuse this vital nutrient.) Updates from the UMass Extension Diagnostics Lab are included in the UMass Extension Landscape Message which returns in March! Have unwanted pesticdies you need to dispose off? MDAR is providing an opportunity for Massachusetts Pesticide applicators to dispose of their unwated pesticides at no cost. In order to participate you MUST register by May 15, 2017. For more information on the program visit the MDAR website. Questions & Answers Q: When is the best time to prune? A: When to prune woody ornamentals is a commonly asked question with an answer that is not clear cut. Determining when to prune should take into account several factors including the specific species, the effect on plant health, the impact on flowering or fruiting, and other physiological responses. The timing of pruning can affect plant health. Pruning affects carbohydrate reserves (stored energy) and photosynthesis (potential energy). Carbohydrates are stored in the root system and woody tissues during the dormant season and mobilized in spring to provide energy to developing buds and shoots. Pruning during the spring growth flush results in the removal of the stored energy that has been mobilized from the roots. Summer and early fall pruning will reduce the amount of energy available for the following spring because carbohydrates will not yet have been transported to the roots and woody tissues for storage. Dormant season pruning has the least effect on carbohydrates reserves. Pruning can also reduce the leaf surface area for photosynthesis, which is the process by which plants create energy. The impact of pruning on photosynthesis can be minimized when done during the dormant season, as new growth in the spring has a greater potential to make up for this loss than when pruned in spring or summer. Pruning results in a growth response. For some species, such as crabapple, the result can be water sprouts or suckers, which are often undesirable due to weak attachment to the tree and vertical vigor. Woody plants with these tendencies may be more desirable to prune in the summer when the formation of water sprouts is less likely. The size of the cut also affects water sprout formation; larger cuts equal more water sprouts. Pruning in late summer may encourage late season growth, which may not have enough time to properly undergo dormancy acclimation and can result in increased winter injury. In fruit production, pruning has an important role in balancing vegetative growth and fruit development to ensure yearly production of high quality fruit. In the landscape the timing of pruning is important to maximize flower display. Plants that produce flowers in the spring initiate flower bud formation the previous summer; therefore, spring flowering plants should be pruned immediately after flowering for maximum display. Summer flowering plants should be pruned in the dormant season for maximum flower display. Pruning wounds expose trees to potential invasion by pests. This risk can be reduced by making sure the proper pruning cut is made at the outer edge of the branch collar and bark ridge. The time of pruning can also affect invasion by pests. Some plant species may be attacked by bark beetles or borers as a result of chemical signals released by fresh pruning wounds. These species should be pruned when pests are least (or not) active. For example, pitch pine should be pruned when turpentine beetle are not active. Wounds created in the fall are considered to be the most susceptible to decay fungi because of the abundance of spores and the slower healing of these wounds. Generally, late winter pruning wounds will heal faster during spring growth and be less susceptible to pest invasion. Some research has shown that heavy fall pruning reduces winter hardiness. Though research has been limited mainly to fruit trees, it may be something to consider in marginally hardy species or when severe pruning is necessary. Evergreens may also experience increased winter injury if pruned in the fall as a result of exposure of previously protected tissues to harsh conditions of winter. Bleeding is another response to pruning wounds. Bleeding is not harmful to the plant itself, but can be an aesthetic concern. Birches, maples, walnuts, and magnolias often bleed resulting in stains along the trunk. When bleeding is a concern, pruning should be avoided during late winter and early spring when bleeding will be abundant. These cuts should be made after full leaf development in summer or before mid-winter. Though late winter is often considered the best time to prune, the specific timing of pruning can vary for the many reasons discussed above. Small amounts of pruning can be done at any time of year without harm to the plant. Safety hazards, dead limbs, or infested limbs should be removed when necessary. Russ Norton, Cape Cod Cooperative Extension Trouble Maker of the Month Winter Moth in Massachusetts: An Update Origin and spread of winter moth Winter moth (Operophtera brumata; Lepidoptera: Geometridae) was first identified in 2003 in Massachusetts by the collaborative efforts of Deborah Swanson, (retired) Plymouth County Extension, the late Robert Childs of UMass Extension, Dr. Joseph Elkinton of UMass, and Dr. David Wagner of UConn. The native range of this insect covers much of Europe and Russia. Winter moth was accidentally introduced into Nova Scotia in the 1930’s, Oregon in the 1950’s, and British Columbia around 1970. Defoliation, most likely due to the winter moth, was first detected in Massachusetts in the late 1990’s. Initially, the activity of this insect was mistaken for the feeding of the native fall cankerworm. Once this insect was definitively identified as winter moth, Dr. Elkinton and others completed a survey for winter moths in the northeastern United States, finding that this insect occurs from Long Island, NY through southeastern Connecticut, most of Rhode Island, eastern Massachusetts, and the coastal areas of New Hampshire and Maine. These areas very closely correspond with the USDA plant cold-hardiness zone 5b (-15°F to -10°F) and warmer. The exact origin of the winter moth population in Massachusetts is as yet unknown, although the Elkinton lab has collaborated with researchers in North America and Europe to sample winter moth DNA and study the genetic relationships between these different populations. Preliminary evidence suggests that the winter moth in New England arose from a separate European introduction and did not come from Nova Scotia. Further research is necessary to determine the European origins of winter moth in North America. Damage from winter moth in Massachusetts began in the areas north and south of Boston in 2004. Over the next few years, the Elkinton lab estimates that winter moth will spread across southeastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, and into Rhode Island at a rate of approximately 5.16 miles per year. Using pheromone baited traps in the Commonwealth, the Elkinton lab determined that winter moth had spread a combined distance of 27.34 miles between 2005 and 2011 toward the western half of the state. Every year, the Elkinton lab deploys winter moth pheromone traps along Route 2 from Concord, Massachusetts to North Adams. They have recovered winter moth as far west as Athol. However, most of the significant defoliation due to this insect occurs in eastern Massachusetts, at points near Boston, as far west as Framingham, the North and South Shore, and Cape Cod. Although winter moth does occur in central Massachusetts, aerial defoliation mapping has not yet revealed a significant impact from this insect in that area. This is potentially due to the cooler temperatures found in central MA that may prohibit winter moth from reaching defoliating levels. Managing winter moths with pesticides In the spring (early – mid-April), winter moth egg hatch begins between 20-50 growing degree days, base 50°F. Growing degree days1 are a way of measuring the accumulated temperatures that contribute to insect development throughout a growing season. Information about growing degree days and tracking their accumulation in Massachusetts is available via the Using Growing Degree Days to Monitor and Time Treatments for Insect Pests in the Landscape fact sheet and via the Landscape Message which provides weekly updates throughout the growing season. In early-mid-April, monitor the expanding buds and developing leaves of host trees and shrubs such as oak (Quercus), maple (Acer), birch (Betula), apple (Malus), and blueberry (Vaccinium). Tiny, young, winter moth caterpillars may be present and must be managed early, if determined necessary. Bacillus thuringiensis ‘Kurstaki’ (B.t.k), is a naturally occurring, soil dwelling bacterium specific to caterpillars of butterflies and moths, and works very well on the younger larvae of winter moth while they are actively feeding on exposed foliage. B.t.k is not effective when the caterpillars are feeding in the buds. B.t.k has to be ingested by the caterpillar. It is best to apply B.t.k for winter moth soon after the foliage has opened completely and the caterpillars are still relatively young. This is when they are most likely to be exposed to the insecticide while feeding, as the best coverage of the foliage will be achieved when the leaves are completely opened. B.t.k has relatively few risks to other non-target organisms and is considered to be practically non-toxic and non-pathogenic to birds, fish, and shrimp. Little-no toxicity has been observed from B.t.k on other non-target insects, including honeybees. Another active ingredient, spinosad, is a biorational compound that works well against winter moth and most other caterpillars. Spinosad is also derived from a soil dwelling bacterium, Saccharopolyspora spinosa, and poses fewer environmental risks, with the exception that it can be highly toxic to honeybees at the time of the application. Therefore, spinosad should not be applied to flowering trees while they are in bloom and pollinators are actively foraging. Once the application of spinosad has dried, usually under 1-3 hours, its toxicity to bees drops significantly and is considered, at that time, to be practically non-toxic to honeybees. Insecticidal soaps may be effective on the smallest winter moth caterpillars, but only when they are exposed (out of the buds) and may be thoroughly coated with the application. Therefore, the best results when utilizing insecticidal soaps are found on smaller plants while caterpillars are still very young and may be reached. Use of soaps on larger ornamental plants will most likely not yield the desired results. Other chemical insecticides are available and labelled for use against winter moth caterpillars, however some of these active ingredients tend to have much larger consequences for beneficial insects and other natural enemies and should be used thoughtfully to reduce the risk to human health and the environment. Dormant oil sprays to the trunks and branches of trees may be helpful to kill over-wintering eggs of winter moth before they hatch (must be applied after egg laying is completed in January but before egg hatch occurs, typically in early-mid April). Do not apply oils when temperatures may dip below freezing and follow all label instructions to prevent phytotoxicity. However, it is important to remember that some eggs will be hidden under bark flaps, in cracks and crevices, and beneath lichen. This may protect those eggs from the oil sprays, which are only effective if the eggs are thoroughly coated, thus reducing the efficacy of such an application. Caterpillars may also disperse from other locations in the spring through a process known as “ballooning”, similar to what is done by the young larvae of gypsy moth. Winter moth caterpillars that hatched on trees not targeted with the dormant oil application may crawl toward the tops of the tree, spin a silken thread, and use the wind to travel to a new location, such as the oil treated plant. This may mean that even with good coverage, winter moth caterpillars may still be present on dormant oil treated specimens. For more information about managing winter moth, please visit the newly updated winter moth fact sheets (links below). Biological control of winter moth Cyzenis albicans is a Tachinid fly that parasitizes winter moth; in fact, winter moth is the only insect that it attacks. This important parasitoid was introduced into Nova Scotia through the 1950's for winter moth and has reduced winter moth to a non-pest status in that region since 1962, perhaps with the help of native predators that also prey on the moth. Biological control of winter moth using Cyzenis albicans is one of the most famous success stories utilizing that management technique for an invasive forest pest. C. albicans lays tiny eggs along the edges of partially defoliated leaves on the hosts of winter moth. Each fly can lay over 1,000 eggs. Unsuspecting winter moth caterpillars then consume the eggs, along with host plant foliage, as they feed. The larval fly will then hatch from the egg, once inside a winter moth caterpillar, and lay in rest until the caterpillar reaches the pupal stage. At the time of pupation, winter moth larvae drop from the trees to pupate in the soil. It is at that time the young fly will continue development within the winter moth pupa until the following spring, at which time the adult fly will emerge, coinciding with when the winter moth larvae will hatch from their eggs. Adult flies will mate and preferentially lay eggs on foliage that has been fed upon by winter moth caterpillars. This fly was first released in Massachusetts in May of 2005 in Plymouth County. Following the 2005 release, Cyzenis albicans was released annually through 2015 at 1-2 sites in Massachusetts per year. 700-2,000 mated fly adults were released per site. By 2014, eleven of the Cyzenis albicans release sites had established populations. At one site in particular in Wellesley, MA, parasitism of winter moth by this fly reached 35% and was accompanied by a decline in winter moth population size at that location. Cyzenis parasitism has been documented up to at least 6 miles from the initial release site in Wellesley, suggesting the successful establishment and possible natural spread of this biocontrol agent. This work is being performed by Dr. Joseph Elkinton's lab group at UMass, Amherst and is made possible thanks to funding from the USDA Forest Service, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and earlier support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As of 2015, Cyzenis albicans release sites are located in the following towns: Andover, Arlington, Berkley, Boxford, Brewster, East Bridgewater, Eastham, Falmouth, Framingham, Freetown, Groveland, Hanson, Hingham, Ipswich, Lexington, Mattapoisett, Middleboro, Newbury, Newton, Rockport, Seekonk, Sherborn, Wellesley, Wenham, Westport, Wrentham, and Yarmouth. Chemical management techniques employed for winter moth should also seek to preserve biological control agents such as Cyzenis in these areas. The effect of winter moth on Massachusetts forests and shade trees Winter moth, Operophtera brumata, is an inchworm-like caterpillar that hatches from tiny, overwintering eggs (150-350 eggs per female) that are found on the bark of their aforementioned host trees. These caterpillars are active, as mentioned previously, in the early spring and feed until they drop to the ground in mid-May where they will pupate in the top layer of soil or within the leaf litter. Winter moth caterpillars are pale green in color with two pairs of prolegs (short, fleshy legs) at the rear of their abdomen. These larvae will wriggle themselves into the buds of their hosts, where they may begin feeding before the bud has completely expanded. Therefore, leaves of oak and maple may open already showing signs of winter moth feeding (patches of holes throughout the leaf). Hosts such as blueberry may suffer declines in fruit since the caterpillars will feed and destroy the flower buds before they can fully expand. Readers in eastern Massachusetts will have already seen the adult males of this species taking flight. Adult winter moths emerge from the soil by mid-late November and will continue to be present in Massachusetts through December, possibly January. Male moths are light brown and may be seen flying any time the temperatures are above freezing. The female of the species is light gray and drab with vestigial wings that are not fully developed and useless in flight. Females will climb the trunk of a nearby tree and emit sex pheromones (chemicals) that are attractive to the males. After mating, the females will lay many tiny eggs in sheltered areas on the host plant bark where those eggs will overwinter to produce the next season’s generation of caterpillars. Eggs are green when first laid, but turn a pinkish to orange color as they develop. Just prior to hatch in the spring, eggs will turn a dark blue. The young, tiny larvae are capable of dispersing (common in species of moth where the females cannot fly) through ballooning. The larvae will spin silken threads that will get caught on the wind, blowing the young caterpillars between trees. These larvae will settle on to their hosts and wriggle into the swelling buds and begin feeding. Older caterpillars continue to feed as leaves have completely opened and are capable of completely defoliating trees and shrubs when in high populations. At maturity, caterpillars may be 1-inch long. As with gypsy moth, repeated years of defoliation from winter moth can weaken trees and make them more susceptible to invasion by secondary insect pests, such as certain native bark and wood boring beetles. Most trees completely defoliated by winter moth will re-foliate in the same season if they have the energy to do so, however in certain areas where gypsy moth is also occurring in high numbers, they may suffer a second defoliation in the same season when the caterpillars of that pest are feeding between May and June. Impacts in 2016 and the outlook for 2017 Winter moth numbers were variable across eastern Massachusetts in the 2016 season. Therefore, defoliation from this pest was variable as well. By April 1st of 2016, winter moth egg hatch had begun. This is approximately 3 weeks ahead of when this insect typically becomes active in Massachusetts. By that date in eastern Massachusetts, anywhere between 29-36 growing degree days, base 50°F had already accumulated, according to UMass Extension records, falling right between that range of 20-50 growing degree days needed to accumulate before winter moth egg hatch occurs. The occurrence of a warm, early spring and early winter moth egg hatch was then followed by a bitterly cold and snowy week around April 8th. The Elkinton lab suspects that due to that cold spell, the buds of host trees stalled in their expansion and were not open far enough for some of the early hatching, tiny winter moth caterpillars to wriggle within and begin feeding (they cannot chew their way into the bud scale; once they wriggle their way in, they do feed on tender tissues beneath). This cold snap may have led to a couple of things: 1) some mortality of the earliest hatched winter moth caterpillars which may have starved due to the short cessation of bud expansion and 2) those winter moth eggs that had not yet hatched by April 1st remained dormant and then continued their hatching in cohorts throughout the early spring. This lead to there being many different instars (sizes of caterpillar) present throughout the season and a staggered pupation period. The Elkinton lab reports that fewer numbers of pupating winter moth were seen in their sample plots this year than any previous year of their studies since 2004. This might be due to the spring weather events described above. What does this mean for the next spring of 2017? Hopefully some areas will receive some relief from this insect. However, due to the potential fecundity of the females that lay 150-350 eggs each, winter moth will still be active next spring. Also in many areas of eastern Massachusetts, particularly in the western suburbs of Boston near Wellesley, winter moth mortality caused by the released parasitoid Cyzenis albicans will be starting to have an impact on populations. With any luck it will convert winter moth to a non-pest over the next decade, much as it did in Nova Scotia in the 1960s. Any respite Massachusetts may receive from winter moth will be much appreciated, given that we are primed for another heavy year of defoliation from gypsy moth in 2017. For More Information: Newly updated winter moth fact sheets: Winter Moth Identification & Management Winter Moth in Massachusetts: History and Biological Control Dr. Joseph Elkinton, Professor of Environmental Conservation at UMass Amherst and Tawny Simisky, Entomology Specialist at UMass Extension Plant of the Month Helleborus spp., Hellebore or Lenten Rose Hellebores have become very popular in recent years due to new hybrids. Recent breeding has focused on new flower colors, larger flowers, upward-facing flowers and later bloom times. Here’s a little information about Hellebores. Hellebore (Family: Ranunculaceae, Genus: Helleborus), is an evergreen herbaceous perennial native to southern and central Europe, often found in mountainous regions with limestone bedrock and humus-rich soils. There are many species and cultivars with the most common being hybrids Helleborus x hybridus, previously called Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose) and Helleborus niger (Christmas rose). Although Hellebores flowers resemble roses, they are not related. Hellebore is one of the first herbaceous perennials to bloom in MA. The nodding flowers (most cultivars) are up to two inches across, and are available in shades of white, rose, green or purple. Some new hybrids bloom later in the season and have spotted, double, bicolors or streaked flowers. The colored "flowers" of Hellebores are actually long-lasting sepals while the real flower petals are inconspicuous. Flowers and leaves of some species, such as the Lenten and Christmas roses arise directly from the roots (stemless) while other species such as H. foetidus have stems. Lenten Roses Helleborus x hybridusHelleborus x hybridus Lenten Rose was designated the perennial plant of the year for 2005 by the Perennial Plant Association. Lenten roses are often produced from seed, and plants are sold by color. Plants are grown for 2 or more years after transplanting to reach blooming size. Some plants are now being commercially propagated by tissue culture which results in identical plants. Lenten rose types tolerate a wide range of growing conditions, have a very deep root system, and are drought tolerant once they become established. Winter-damaged foliage may be completely removed before the flowering stems emerge, without affecting the plant. Christmas Rose Helleborus nigerH. niger, the white-flowering Christmas rose, is grown as a potted Holiday crop in addition to garden plant for winter blooms. Christmas rose is primarily produced by tissue culture. Seed strains of H. niger are available, however, the seedling offspring will be variable. Christmas rose has a shallow root system and prefers more moisture than Lenten rose. Also, all of the foliage should not be removed at one time. Interspecies and Intersectional HybridsHelleborus ×ballardiae, H. ×ericsmithii and H. ×nigercors, are newer forms, which are seedling crosses. These are hybrids between at least two different species that have attributes from each. These hybrids are propagated by tissue culture because they are almost always sterile. New hybrids have flowers facing upward instead of nodding and some have blossoms that change color as they mature. They tend to have shallow root systems and can also be grown in containers. Culture Most Hellebores grow best in gardens located in partial shade, with well-drained evenly moist soil, enriched with organic matter and a soil pH close to neutral. A soil test for pH will indicate whether lime is needed. If plants are slow to establish, they may benefit from an application of dolomitic limestone and a light application of fertilizer in the early spring based on soil test results. Prior to planting, soil should be prepared to a depth of 9-12 inches, since many cultivars have deep roots and plants will likely be in the same area for many years. Hellebores should be planted with “crowns” (where stems join the roots) at soil level and no more than one inch deep. Avoid covering crowns with mulch or compost which can lead to crown rot. Lenten rose and Christmas rose are reportedly hardy to zone 4 (-30 degrees F) and hardiness varies among the many hybrids. While plants may be hardy, it is common for the foliage to become tattered, necrotic, and desiccated during the winter. Depending on the type of Hellebores, the foliage can be selectively pruned back before new growth appears to make room for new growth and improve appearance. Resist the temptation to cut back (clean up) foliage during the fall as the foliage protects flower buds. As flowers senesce, the flower stems can be cut back to basal foliage. Take care not to remove the stems of Bear’s-foot Hellebore (H. foetidus), because they carry the flower buds formed in the previous growing season. Deadhead flowers if seedlings are not desired or during the summer, pull unwanted seedlings located around the base of the plants. Seedlings require about 3 years to flower and hybrids may not come true from seed. During the summer, continue to groom plants by removing dead leaves. Pests/Diseases: Hellebores are resistant to deer and voles. During wet years, they are susceptible to slugs and during dry years, they are susceptible to two-spotted spider mites. It should be noted that all parts of Hellebores are toxic. References Avant T. Hellebores: Winter Hardy Shade Perennials for the Woodland Garden https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/hellebores-winter-hardy-sha... Perry L. Hellebore: The Lenten Rose. University of Vermont http://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/articles/hellebore.html How to Grow Hellebores. White Flower Farm https://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/how-to-grow-hellebores Burrell C.C and J.K. Tyler. 2006. Hellebores: A Comprehensive Guide. Timber Press. Tyler J.K. and R. Tyler. 2013. Understanding Helleborus. Greenhouse Grower Magazine. http://www.greenhousegrower.com/varieties/understanding-helleborus/ Tina Smith, UMass Extension Upcoming Events Featured Event: Spring Kickoff for Landscapers: Sustainable Landscapes Management Sustainable landscapes are not only environmentally sound but they can also be functional, maintainable and aesthetically pleasing. Come join us to learn ways to make your landscape greener and sustainable. Topics will include: designing pollinator friendly landscapes, including native shrubs in the landscape, sustainable management of invasive plants in the landscape, managing insect pests of trees and shrubs sustainably, sustainable management of common diseases of perennials in the landscape. Event Date/Time: Thursday, March 30, 2017 9:00am- to 3:30pm Event Location: TownPlace Suites, Wareham, MA Other Upcoming Events: 3/21: The Invasive Plant Issue and Invasive Plant Identrification (A3) 3/30: Spring Kickoff for Landscapers: Sustainable Landscapes Management 4/11: Developing an Invasive Plant Management Program (B) 4/19: EPA WPS Update and Train-The-Trainer Workshop 4/21: Lecture by Dr. Michael Dirr : The Origins of New Shade and Ornamental Trees: The Roles of Serendipity and Breeding 4/22: Tree Walk and Talk with Dr. Michael Dirr and Grand Opening of the UMass/Eversource Utility Arboretum 4/26: EPA WPS Update and Train-The-Trainer Workshop 4/27: EPA WPS Update and Train-The-Trainer Workshop For more information and registration for any of these events visit the UMass Extension Landscape, Nursery, and Urban Forestry Program Upcoming Events Page. For more information and registration for the EPA WPS workshops please visit the UMass Pesticide Education Program. Additional Resources For detailed reports on growing conditions and pest activity – Check out the Landscape Message For commercial growers of greenhouse crops and flowers - Check out the New England Greenhouse Update website For professional turf managers - Check out Turf Management Updates For home gardeners and garden retailers - Check out home lawn and garden resources. UMass Extension also has a Twitter feed that provides timely, daily gardening tips, sunrise and sunset times to home gardeners, see https://twitter.com/UMassGardenClip Diagnostic Services A UMass Laboratory Diagnoses Landscape and Turf Problems - The UMass Extension Plant Diagnostic Lab is available to serve commercial landscape contractors, turf managers, arborists, nurseries and other green industry professionals. It provides woody plant and turf disease analysis, woody plant and turf insect identification, turfgrass identification, weed identification, and offers a report of pest management strategies that are research based, economically sound and environmentally appropriate for the situation. Accurate diagnosis for a turf or landscape problem can often eliminate or reduce the need for pesticide use. For sampling procedures, detailed submission instructions and a list of fees, see Plant Diagnostics Laboratory Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing - The University of Massachusetts Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory is located on the campus of The University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Testing services are available to all. The function of the Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory is to provide test results and recommendations that lead to the wise and economical use of soils and soil amendments. For complete information, visit the UMass Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory web site. Alternatively, call the lab at (413) 545-2311.