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Submitting Samples From an Orchard, Vinyard, or Tree Plantation

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declining pines in a plantation

A good sample is essential for an accurate diagnosis. Please follow these instructions carefully. The instructions on this page apply to sampling from tree plantations, orchards, vineyards, and similar settings.

Related pages…

To sample for disease diagnosis

Considerations for Samples of Any Size

  • Select living plants with moderate symptoms.
  • Collect samples when the foliage is dry and the ground is not saturated.
  • Do not add water or wet paper towels to the bagged sample.
  • Ripe fruits should be packed in absorbent material. They should not be bagged unless coming from outside of North Carolina, in which case double-bagging is required.
  • Keep samples out of the sun, preferably refrigerated, until they can be shipped or taken to the clinic.

Sampling Small to Medium-Sized Trees, Shrubs, Vines, or Brambles

  • Submit one specimen with moderate symptoms or 2-3 plants showing a range of symptoms.
  • The root ball can be wrapped in a plastic bag fastened loosely around the main stem. This prevents soil from getting on the foliage in transit. The whole specimen can then be bagged before placing in a sturdy box.
  • To mail a medium-sized tree (4-8ft tall), the main stem can be cut into numbered sections so that we can reconstruct it in the clinic.

Sampling Large Trees, Shrubs, Vines, or Brambles

  • If coming in person to the PDIC, you can bring trees, shrubs, and vines as large as your vehicle will allow. With open-bed trucks or trailers, cover the plants to avoid wind damage en route. Please call (919-515-3619) when you arrive so we can meet you in the parking lot and subsample the parts needed for our analyses.
  • When it’s not possible to submit entire plants, representative symptomatic parts can be submitted in the same way as described for landscape trees and shrubs. If possible, the lower portion of the main stem – including the graft union, if any – and upper part of the root system should be included, along with the adhering soil.

In addition to the physical sample, a few photographs showing the symptoms of concern and their distribution in the landscape can be helpful to the diagnosticians. In the case of trees, be sure to include a picture of the whole crown and one or two from the base of the trunk. These can be uploaded to the database along with the sample information.

Pathogen detection in planting material

While we understand growers’ concern that seeds, plugs, or liners may harbor pathogens, we do not as a general rule accept samples of plants or planting material that appear to be healthy. This is for three reasons. First, there are dozens of potential pathogens, so we need the symptoms as a guide for the diagnostic process. Secondly, when pathogens are present without symptoms, they tend to be at low levels, requiring particularly sensitive screening techniques. Third, the selection of the sample is critical in those cases, to reduce the chance of a negative result that doesn’t truly reflect what’s going on in the greenhouse or nursery. If you have any specific questions about this policy, feel free to contact us at 919-515-3619 or via email at plantclinic@ces.ncsu.edu.

Written By

Mike Munster, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionMike MunsterPlant Disease Diagnostician for Commercial Ornamentals Call Mike Email Mike Entomology & Plant Pathology
NC State Extension, NC State University
Page Last Updated: 8 months ago
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