UMass Extension Greenhouse Crops and Floriculture Program


Plant Problem Diagnostics

When growing greenhouse crops, it is important to know what disease you are trying to prevent or control. When diseases are not successfully controlled or become recurring problems, it is often because the cause was not accurately identified. 

The UMass Plant Diagnostic Lab routinely uses microscopic and laboratory identification of fungi, bacteria, viruses and nematodes. Samples can be hand-delivered (if possible) or sent overnight mail, UPS, or Federal Express.

Along with your sample include:
A completed Vegetable & Floriculture Diagnostic submission form for each specimen.  Be as complete as possible; accurate diagnosis depends on sufficient information about cultural practices and environmental conditions. Collect specimens that show a range of symptoms, avoiding rotted or decayed specimens. Please avoid Friday samples.

There is also a fee ($50) per specimen payable to the University of Massachusetts and the fee must accompany each sample. Upon reaching a conclusion, the lab will send or email a report on the diagnosis including complete management guidelines emphasizing cultural and biorational controls as well as chemical control options.

Soil Testing

The University of Massachusetts Extension Greenhouse Crops and Floriculture program recognizes the importance of reliable and prompt diagnosis of plant problems in greenhouse production.

A soil test is important for several reasons: To optimize crop production; to protect the environment from contamination by runoff and leaching of excess fertilizers; to aid in the diagnosis of plant culture problems; to improve the nutritional balance of the growing media; and to save money and conserve energy by applying only the amount of fertilizer needed. Pre- plant media analyses provide an indication of potential nutrient deficiencies, pH imbalance or excess soluble salts. This is particularly important for growers who mix their own media. Media testing during the growing season is an important tool for managing crop nutrition and soluble salts levels.

The UMass Soil and Plant Tissue Testing Laboratory uses saturated paste extraction method (SME) of testing soilless greenhouse media. In this test a paste is made using soil and water and then the liquid portion (the extract) is separated from the solid portion for pH, soluble salt, and nutrient analysis.