Submitting Turf Samples

The activity of fungal pathogens, insects, and the weather can result in similar symptoms on turf. Diagnosing turf health problems can be difficult if a good sample, detailed information, and a photo of the overall symptoms are not provided. An accurate diagnosis is needed to implement a management practice that will improve the situation.

When submitting samples to a laboratory for diagnostic assistance, please follow these recommendations: Collect entire plants, including the root system.
It is best to sample at the margin of the problem, the area where the sick turf meets healthy turf.
Dig the sample and include some of the underlying soil.
Include a section of turf approximately 6 inches in diameter.
Collect the sample before applying any disease-controlling chemicals.
Wrap the sample firmly in newspaper and mail in a sturdy box filled with newspaper or some other padding.

Include important background information, such as: 1. When did the problem first occur?
2. How quickly have the symptoms progressed?
3. What are your watering practices?
4. What are your fertilization practices?
5. When was the lawn established?
6. Is the affected area in a low spot?
7. What is the overall pattern?
8. Is the affected area in full sun or shade?

Turf samples for disease diagnosis can be mailed to the Iowa State University Plant Disease Clinic, 323 Bessey Hall, Ames, IA 50011. There is a $10 fee for diagnosis. The telephone number of the Plant Disease Clinic is 515-294-0581. Please call if you have any questions. Samples also can be submitted to the Plant Disease Clinic through your local county extension office.

This article originally appeared in the 6/16/2003 issue.

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