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Extension Diagnostic Services. What can the Gainesville campus diagnostic labs do for a master gardener volunteer client? Anthony Camerino Citrus County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator. How do you send a sample to Gainesville and then comprehend the results?.

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Extension Diagnostic Services

What can the Gainesville campus diagnostic labs do for a master gardener volunteer client?

Anthony Camerino

Citrus County Extension

Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator

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How do you send a sample to Gainesville and then comprehend the results?

Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Clinic/Phone Room

1. “Diagnostic labs in Gainesville?? What labs!?!?”

2. “Maybe if I put enough stuff in this box, put a stamp on it, and send to Gainesville someone will tell me what’s wrong with my plant??”

3. “ I can’t diagnosis your problem here, but I can get your sample to the right lab for an accurate and timely diagnosis.”

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Plant Identification

Extension Soil Testing Lab

Plant Disease Clinic & Nematode Assay Lab

Insect Identification Lab

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Purpose of Extension Diagnostic Services

  • Provide education to the public concerning respective disciplines

  • Not-for-profit

  • Only samples collected in Florida

  • The quality and accuracy of results are directly related to how the samples are collected, handled, and shipped

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Extension Soil Testing Lab (ESTL)

  • Not just pH and homeowner nutrient analysis services

  • Many services provided:

    • Homeowner:

      • Landscape and home vegetable gardens

      • Irrigation water testing

    • Commercial growers:

      • Plant tissue testing of specific crops

      • Container media testing

      • Producer soil testing

      • Pine seedling nursery

    • Interpretation of data

      • Nutrient recommendations and guidelines as appropriate

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Soil Nutrient Analysis

  • Cost

    • pH $3.00

      • Indication of general soil nutrient availability

      • Lime recommendation when appropriate for soil buffering capacity

    • Macro nutrients $7.00

      • P, K, Ca, Mg

  • Does not test for pathogens, insects, nematodes, or soil N

  • Does not make interpretation for soil extractable Ca and Fe

  • Does not estimate pollution risk

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A soil nutrient analysis is a predictive estimation of plant growth response to an applied nutrient #1

  • Nutrient and lime recommendations are based on plant growth responses which have been correlated with the levels of nutrient extracted in a soil test

  • The soil is not inert, it continuously absorbs and releases nutrients

    • The recommendation takes into account these nutrients

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A soil nutrient analysis is a predictive estimation of plant growth response to an applied nutrient #2

  • Probability of a response to a fertilizer application if the nutrient level is:

    • Low - 75%

    • Medium – 50%

    • High - unlikely

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Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Clinic Soil pH #1

  • Test results can do the following

    • Assist in plant selection (e.g. “acid loving plants”)

    • Tells you if you may need to modify soil pH

      • The analysis does not tell you how much to lime

    • Indication of general soil fertility

Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Clinic

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Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Clinic Soil pH #2

  • Does not predict liming requirement

    • Does not account for soil buffering capacity

    • If a specific lime recommendation is needed you must send the sample to the Extension Soil Testing Lab in Gainesville

Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Clinic

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Tests for

Liming potential


Suspended solids

Cost $9.00 to $10.00

Tests water for irrigation quality, not a test for safety of consumption

Sample should be taken “mid-stream”

Run water for several minutes before collecting

Collect nearest to irrigation outlet

Irrigation water analysis

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Insect Identification Services #1

  • Gives written report of insect diagnosis, you must decide if the insect is the cause of the problem

  • Cost $8.00

  • Follow detailed packing directions

    • Depends on type of insect

  • Fill out form in pencil or ink that will not run if wetted.

  • Take special note of where the insect was found and what was infested

  • The more specimens the merrier!!

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Bad sample preparation

Ants on scotch tape

Spider in plastic bag

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Plant Identification #1

  • A partnership between UF-IFAS and the Florida Museum of Natural History’s herbarium

  • Cost $0.00

  • Press plant between newspaper and cardboard

    • Not in plastic bag

  • If the plant can not be identified by available references at the county office, then contact your county agent to submit sample.

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Extension Plant Disease Clinic

  • Diagnosis of pathogen isolated from the submitted sample

  • Use Plant Disease Diagnostic Form

  • Cost

    • Regular sample $20.00

    • Lethal Yellowing $75.00, Fusarium Wilt $55.00

  • Sample should include:

    • Plant tissue reflective of the problem

      • Roots, shoots, or leaves

    • Transition zone between healthy and diseased plant tissue

  • Provide as much information as possible

    • Plant species and cultivar submitted

    • Pesticides or fertilizers applied recently

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Extension Plant Disease ClinicAdditional Notes

  • Only send root samples in plastic bag

    • remove excess soil but leave enough to prevent desiccation

  • Do not send leaves in plastic bag

  • The accuracy of clinic results may be affected by recently applied pesticides.

    • When possible, sample before treatment

  • New rapid turf diagnostic service for commercial turf managers (e.g. golf courses, athletic fields, etc.)

    • See your county agent if you have such a request

    • $75.00

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A sample packaged properly

  • Roots in plastic bag, entire sample wrapped in dry paper towel

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Bad sample preparation

Crushed sample packed in a wet paper towel

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Nematode Assay Lab

  • Cost $20.00

  • Estimation of the RISK to a specific crop or plant based on the number and type of nematodes present in the soil sample

  • Sample soil from symptomatic area

    • If tree or shrub sample near drip line

    • Roots are important too

    • Use sample submission kit!!!

    • Place sample in plastic bag, then box

  • If foliar nematodes are suspected, send sample folded into a slightly damped paper towel in a plastic bag

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Nematode Assay Lab #1

  • Bag should be filled with enough soil to about fill the box

  • Place roots in plastic bag with soil to keep moist

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What’s the difference between these two panels

Don’t use soil nutrient analysis bag to package nematode samples!!!

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Good sample collection, packaging and handling is important because:

A lot can happen between here

and here !!

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Questions? because: