Tree Fruit & Small Fruit Diagnostics
Guidelines for Sending Fruit Specimens:
Please submit samples based on the following guidelines for tree fruit and small fruit diseases, tree fruit and small fruit insect identification, and tree fruit and small fruit weed identification.
- Fill out the Fruit Diagnostics Form as completely as possible. The information supplied will enable a more thorough and accurate diagnosis. Include your phone number and e-mail address so we may contact you for further information or inform you of the diagnosis. This form must accompany each specimen sent to the lab.
- Disease Samples: Send several plants/leaves/branches etc. showing a range of symptoms that are representative of the problem. Select samples from the area at the margin between the diseased portion of the plant and the healthy tissue. Dead plant material is of no diagnostic value because it contains secondary organisms that make detection of the primary pathogen difficult.
- Place leaves, branches, and other plant parts in a plastic bag and seal it. Do not add moist towels or moisten the sample before sealing it.
- When sending entire plants, dig, rather than pull, roots from the soil. Wrap roots and attached soil in a plastic bag and secure to the trunk with a twist tie. Place a second bag over the foliage and punch a few holes through this bag for ventilation. Do not add additional water or moist towels.
- Vascular wilt specimens: Plants or plant parts that suddenly wilt may be infected with a vascular disease. Branch or stem sections 1/4" to 1" in diameter and 4" to 6" long should be taken from the wilting plant or recently wilted plant part. Avoid sending plant material that has been dead for any length of time.
- Insect Samples: Immature and 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.
- Weed Samples: Fill out the Weed and Invasive Plant Form as completely as possible. Collect whole plant, including the roots, if possible. 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.
Nematode Samples: Nematode populations are estimated most accurately with a composite soil 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. If a small fruit crop is present in the area of concern, submit a sample of plant roots in the same bag with the soil sample.
When plant damage is evident: Collect 15 to 20 subsamples from throughout the affected area and bulk them. For comparison, a composite sample may also be taken from an adjacent, healthy appearing area.
When no damage is evident: An area can be sampled by collecting 30 or 40 samples and combining them as one. Keep notes about where you sampled so you can return at a later date and sample the same general area.
Packaging the sample: The soil (at least 1/2 pint) should be placed in a sealable plastic bag to prevent desiccation. Do NOT add water. If submitting more than one sample, clearly mark the sample number on the outside of the container. Paper tags placed in contact with the soil deteriorate quickly. After collection, refrigerate or ship immediately.
Diagnostic Fees (payment payable to University of Massachusetts):
- Fruit disease analysis - $50
- Fruit nematode analysis - $50
- Fruit insect ID - $50
- Fruit weed ID - $30
By check: Enclose your payment with the sample. Make checks payable to the University of Massachusetts
By credit card: Enclose a copy of your credit card sales confirmation with the sample.
Return to the Plant Diagnostics Laboratory overview page