Randy Prostak, (413) 577-1738, firstname.lastname@example.org
UMass Extension Plant Diagnostic Lab, (413) 545-3208
UMass Extension Plant Diagnostic Lab, (413) 545-3208
Contact the appropriate individual listed above before sending a sample to ensure that someone will be available to examine your specimen. Please avoid Friday samples; Friday samples will not be examined until Monday which can lead to deterioration of the sample. If you mail the sample, use an express delivery service such as UPS, Federal Express, or next day mail. You must include a completed Turf Diagnostic Form. The information you record on the form may be more important to the diagnosis than the sample itself, so please be comprehensive. Upon reaching a conclusion, the lab will call you and send, fax, or e-mail a detailed report including cultural and chemical management measures.
Guidelines for Collecting & Packaging Turf Specimens:
Please submit samples based on the following guidelines for turf diseases, turf insects, turf nematode assay and turfgrass identification.
Turf Disease Specimens:
1. Collecting a sample for turf disease diagnosis: A 4 to 6 inch diameter sample from the "leading edge" of a problem is most useful. Include roots and soil to a depth of at least 2 inches and foliage showing a range of symptoms. Do not send smaller samples or samples collected with a soil probe. Sample from areas where the problem is active or increasing. The pathogen is most likely to be found at the leading edge of a patch area. Samples should include both healthy and affected grass. Try to choose an area that is typical of the problem.
2. Packaging the sample: Keep the sample moist and cool, but do not add water or seal tightly in plastic. Avoid soil and moisture on the grass. Wet or soiled grass will deteriorate and make diagnosis impossible. Wrap the sample in several layers of newspaper and pack it snugly in a sturdy box. This keeps the soil from getting on top of the plants and obscuring the disease symptoms. If you suspect an unusual problem, take a sample before spraying any fungicides. It is often difficult to make an accurate diagnosis after a fungicide has been applied.
3. Fill out the Turf Diagnostic Form. Be as complete as possible. Include complete name and mailing address. Photos of the problem are extremely helpful. Remember that accurate diagnosis requires both a representative sample and sufficient information about the cultural practices and environmental conditions associated with the disease problem.
Turf Samples for Nematode Assay:
1. Collection of soil samples: Nematode populations are estimated most accurately with a composite sample. Use a 3/4 to 1 inch diameter soil probe, or something similar, and sample to a depth of four inches throughout the site. This depth is a compromise but represents the population distribution of different species fairly well.
- When damage is evident: If a portion of the turf appears unhealthy, collect 15 to 20 subsamples from throughout the affected area and bulk them. For comparison, a composite sample should also be taken from an adjacent, healthy appearing area.
- When no damage is evident: An entire green can be sampled by collecting 30 or 40 samples and combining them as one. However, if portions of the green have had a prior history of being weak, sample throughout the area collecting about 20 samples. Keep notes about where you sampled so you can return at a later date and sample the same general area.
2. Packaging the sample: The soil (at least 1/2 pint) should be placed in a container, such as a plastic bag, to prevent desiccation. Do not add water to the sample. Clearly identify the sample number on the outside of the container. Paper tags placed in contact with the soil deteriorate quickly. Do not subject the soil to high temperatures. After collection, refrigerate or deliver as soon as possible. The "before noon" deliveries seem to work very well. Mark the box, "Plant Material - Perishable. Refrigerate on Delivery." Include a completed Turf Diagnostic Form.
Turf Insect Specimens:
Fill out the Turf Diagnostic Form as completely as possible. Grubs and other soft-bodied insects should be placed in 70% ethyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol is not ideal, but may work). Other insects must be carefully packaged. Do not place loose insects into envelopes for mailing, as the automatic process for handling mail will most likely destroy the specimens.
Turf Weed or Turfgrass ID Specimens:
Fill out the Turf Diagnostic Form as completely as possible. Collect the whole plant, including the roots if possible, and select the healthiest plants available. Wrap roots in a wet paper towel. Place plant in a zip-lock or freezer bag and seal with some air in the bag in order to prevent crushing. Place bag in a sturdy box or envelope for mailing.
Guidelines for Sending Specimens:
If possible, hand carry the sample to the UMass Extension Plant Diagnostic Lab. If you mail the sample, use an express delivery service that will deliver directly to the lab rather than the University Mail Room. U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail and next day delivery packages go to the the University distribution system and are delayed by a day or more. UPS and Federal Express Express Delivery are best. Please DO NOT use Federal Express "First Delivery" because they arrive before our offices open (before 8 a.m.).
Diagnostic Fees (payment payable to University of Massachusetts):
- Turf Disease Analysis - $75
- Turf Nematode Assay - $75
- Turf Insect ID - $25
- Turf Weed ID - $25
- Turfgrass ID - $25
Address packages to:
UMass Plant Diagnostic Lab
101 University Drive, Suite A7
Amherst, MA 01002
(413) 545-3208 - fax (413) 545-4385
Use exact address to ensure delivery.
For further information, visit:
The UMass Extension Turf Team
Return to the main diagnostics overview page