Identification/Diagnosis

Have a plant or insect problem?  Our team of Extension Specialists, Entomologists, Horticulturalist, and Master Gardeners are here to help!  Just follow the instructions for submitting a sample below and drop it by one of our offices.

Please note:  Failure to provide an adequate sample or complete information about the sample will greatly affect the quality of the diagnosis. The better the sample and the more thorough the information… the more accurate the identification and diagnosis of the cause and the better the advice on the management or control of the problem. Please follow the submission procedures so we can ensure you a correct diagnosis.

Plant Problem Diagnosis

  • Select a plant specimen showing distinct disease symptoms. If it’s not practical to send the entire plant, try to send several plants or plant parts that show the various stages of the problem.
  • Diagram or describe any apparent patterns of damage. We depend on your desciption of the site when the sample was taken. The more information we have, the better we can give you an accurate diagnosis.
  • Tree diseases can best be diagnosed by evaluating the junction of diseased and healthy tissue. Include twigs or limbs just beginning to show symptoms, but still alive. Old, dead limbs are not helpful for diagnosis.
  • Dig up the entire plant where practical, including its root structure. Try not to pull it out because diseased roots will be left behind.
  • Wrap the roots in a plastic bag separate from the rest of the plant to prevent dirt from contaminating leaves and stems.
  • Place the entire sample in another plastic bag without additional moisture, as it also may cause contamination.
  • Bring the sample to one of our offices and complete the Plant Problem Diagnosis Form. Remember, the more information you can provide, the better we will be able to help you.
  • There is no charge for our team to provide this service. If for some reason we are unable to provide a diagnosis, we will contact you for permission to send the sample on to one of WSU’s Diagnostic Labs. These labs may charge for their services.

Plant/Weed Identification

  • Plants are identified in many ways. The most usefule plant parts are flowers, fruits, leaves, buds and young stems. Because some ornamental plants have many varieties, it may not be possible to determine the exact variety without the flower. With cultivated plants it will often be difficult or impossible to accurately identify the plant as to its cultivated variety.
  • Collect as many plant parts as possible, including flowers, stems and roots.
  • Place samples in a zipper-style plastic bag (DO NOT add moisture as it may cause contamination and lead to mold) and seal closed.
  • Store samples in the refrigerator until you are ready to bring it in to one of our offices.
  • If the sample is a weed, fill out the Weed Identification Form.
  • If the sample is an ornamental plant, fill out the Plant Identification Form.
  • There is no charge for our team to provide this service. If for some reason we are unable to provide an identification, we will contact you for permission to send the sample on to one of WSU’s Diagnostic Labs. These labs may charge for their services.

Turf Diagnosis

  • Use a cup cutter to take lawn disease specimens, or cut the turf in squares approximately 4 inches across and as deep as the roots will hold soil.
  • Leave the soil intact. DO NOT bring in smaller samples or pulled grass blades. Take the sample from the edge of the affected area so that the sample represents healthy, slightly affected and heavily damaged turf.
  • Store samples in a refrigerator until you are ready to bring it in to one of our offices.
  • Fill out the Lawn/Turfgrass Problem Diagnosis Form.
  • There is no charge for our team to provide this service. If for some reason we are unable to provide a diagnosis, we will contact you for permission to send the sample on to one of WSU’s Diagnostic Labs. These labs may charge for their services.

Insect Identification/Diagnosis

  • Be careful in collecting insect specimens. Treat them gently and try not to squash them or damage them in any way.
  • Insects should be killed just before submitting. This is easily accomplished by freezing insects overnight. DO NOT put insects in alcohol.
  • Bring the sample to one of our offices and complete the Insect Diagnosis Form.
  • There is no charge for our team to provide this service. If for some reason we are unable to provide a diagnosis, we will contact you for permission to send the sample on to one of WSU’s Diagnostic Labs. These labs may charge for their services.

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Soil & Water Testing

WSU Extension of Benton and Franklin counties does not test soil and water samples. Below is a list of local certified labs that do offer these services for homeowners and commercial growers. Please be sure to contact them for proper collection method BEFORE taking in a sample.

Soil Testing

  • NW Ag Consultants
    2545 W Falls Street
    Kennewick, WA
    Phone:  509-783-7450
  • US Ag Analytical Services
    1320 E Spokane Street
    Pasco, WA
    Phone:  509-547-3838
  • Cascade Analytical
    1008 W Ahtanum Road
    Union Gap, WA
    Phone:  800-545-4206

After you have your soil test results, you may wonder where to go from there. Here are some resources for interpreting your results.

Benton Franklin Health District Lab Services

Benton Franklin Health District Lab Services

Water Testing

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