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Submission of Tomato Plant Samples for Diagnosis

Tomatoes are a favorite vegetable crop in Kentucky gardens. However, this staple of the home garden often falls victim to diseases, insect pests, or abiotic conditions, such as poor site characteristics and planting practices, mechanical damage, chemical damage, etc. When problems arise, the two questions on gardeners’ minds are:

•What caused the problem?

•What can be done about it?

The first step toward answering these questions may be contacting the local county Extension office. An Extension agent may be able to quickly diagnose the problem, or if not, can then assist in preparing plant samples for submission to the University of Kentucky Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.

Selection and packaging of a sample might sound straightforward, but a few common mistakes can result in an “insufficient sample” response and delays in determining the cause of problems.  The tips below can lead to a more timely and accurate diagnosis of tomato problems, as well as problems on other vegetable or herbaceous crops. These guidelines are appropriate for commercially produced crops, as well as home garden samples.

Tomato Sample Submission

•When possible, submit the entire plant including roots. Dry packing material should be used to pad the sample and reduce damage during shipping. Wrap the rootball in a plastic bag, leaving leaves and stems exposed; this also keeps foliage from becoming contaminated with soil from the rootball 

•In the event that a whole plant cannot be sent as a sample, provide the portion of the plant that appears to be affected along with healthy tissue for comparison.

If you have samples to send to the UK Diagnostic Lab contact the Butler County Extension Service at 526-3767.  We don’t mail samples after Wednesday because they are stuck in the mail over the weekend and the plants are too deteriorated to be useful samples to our lab technicians.

***This is a portion of a news article published in the UK newsletter KY Pest News.  You can join the KY Pest News mailing list for free. 

For more information, contact the Butler County Extension Office at 102 Parkway Lane, Morgantown or call 270-526-3767. 

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability. 

Source: Kentucky Pest Management News

Submitted By: Greg Drake II, County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources

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