Sample Collection

Collecting Plant Samples

  • The accuracy of the diagnosis depends on the size and condition of the plant specimen. Rotten, dry, dead, or incomplete plant specimens are worthless.
  • Collect intact plants if possible. Include roots, because aboveground plant symptoms may reflect a root problem. Dig out (don’t pull up) the plants, and leave soil attached.  If intact plants cannot be collected, include plant parts that show damage.
  • If possible, collect several plants or plant parts (fruits, nuts, twigs, leaves) representing different stages of the disease.
  • When collecting lawn or turf specimens, take a sample from the edge of the affected area, providing both diseased and healthy plant material. Samples should be about 8 to 10 inches square by 3 inches deep.
  • For tree samples, the branches sent in should be at least 12 inches long.
  • Keep specimens cool if they must be held before bringing to the lab or shipping. Complete the Plant Problem Diagnosis Questionnaire form (ANR-0089-B).  Copies of this form are available on-line (ANR-0089-B).  Fill out the form for your sample with as much information as possible.
  • Shipping Address:

    Plant Diagnostic Laboratory – Birmingham

    Alabama Cooperative Extension System
    2612 Lane Park Road
    Birmingham, AL 35223

Collecting Soil Samples For Nematode Analysis

  • The service charge for nematode soil testing is $10.00.

Routine Soil Testing

  • Please note that routine soil testing (analysis for pH, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and calcium), foliar analysis and other tests are performed at the Soil Testing Laboratory which is separate from the Birmingham and Auburn Plant Diagnostic Labs. Soil samples can be sent to:

    Soil Testing Laboratory

    ALFA Agricultural Services and Research Building
    961 South Donahue Dr.
    Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849

  • To obtain supplies (sample boxes and forms) or information concerning fees and services, contact our Hanna Center office, at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, or the ACES/AAES Soil & Forage Testing Laboratory at Auburn University.