How To Collect Samples

Guidelines for collecting PLANT samples

  • For above-ground samples (foliage, flowers, fruit), surfaces of the material must be dry.
  • Do not collect and send materials that are wet from rain or irrigation (allow them to first dry). If materials are damp, pack with a dry paper towel when putting them in the plastic bag.
  • For below-ground samples, roots and adhering soil can be moist but should not be overly wet. Use a shovel or trowel to dig up the roots (do not pull the plant out of the ground). Gently shake the root system to remove most of the soil (soil is not used in the tests).
  • As much as possible, collect and send the entire plant, since a complete analysis includes roots.
  • Collect a sufficient number of plants so that the sample is representative of the situation. In general the “more is better” rule applies. We suggest the following minimum numbers for samples: 12 to 15 symptomatic flowers, 10 to 12 symptomatic leaves, 10 to 12 symptomatic fruit, 4 to 5 entire plants (for plant collapse symptoms).
  • As much as possible, collect a representative series of plants showing how the problem is progressing: a healthy plant, and plants showing early, middle, and advanced symptoms.
  • Place the sample in a plastic bag that is large enough to contain the entire sample; tie up or otherwise seal the bag.
  • Label the bag (or attach labels) with your name and identifying information (location where sample was collected, ranch name, lot number, etc.). If samples come from different ranches or locations, put samples in separate bags since they should be tested separately.
  • Prior to hand-delivering or shipping, most bagged samples can be stored for a short time in a refrigerator. However, do not store samples at room temperature or in a freezer.
  • If using our drop-off locations (Salinas or Watsonville) or office (Gilroy or Hollister), fill out a submission form and bring the sample.
  • If shipping, place the bag in a box (do not use flat cardboard mailers; samples always get crushed in these). Include submission form and appropriate permit copy. Ship the sample to the Gilroy address using overnight/next day delivery. Do not have boxes shipped out on a Friday (it will not be delivered until Monday, thereby compromising the sample).

 

Guidelines for collecting SOIL samples

  • As much as possible, collect a representative series of soil samples.
  • Large acreage lots should be divided into sub-sampled lots (example: for a 40 acre ranch, consider dividing this up into four sections of 10 acres each). Contact our lab for suggestions.
For each sub-sampled lot, a large number of soil samples should be collected and bulked:

  1. Using a trowel or other tool, collect a shallow (2-6 inches deep) scoop of soil
  2. Place the scoop of soil into a convenient carrier, such as a large bucket
  3. Randomly walk and collect another soil sample some yards away
  4. Repeat this process until 50 or more soil scoops have been placed in the bucket
  5. Pour the contents of the bucket into a large container (such as a wheel barrow)
  6. Thoroughly mix the sample
  7. Collect approx. 3 cups of soil from this bulked sample
  8. Place the sample in a plastic bag; secure the bag
  • Mark the bag (or attach labels) with your name and identifying information (location where sample was collected, ranch name, lot number, etc.). If samples come from different ranches or locations, put each sample in a separate bag since they should be tested separately.
  • Prior to hand-delivering or shipping, most bagged soil samples can be stored at room temperature.
  • If using our drop-off locations (Salinas or Watsonville) or office (Gilroy or Hollister), fill out a submission form and bring the sample. Please note: These locations are closed on weekends and holidays.
  • If shipping, place the bag in a box. Include submission form and appropriate permit copy. Ship the sample to the Gilroy address. Do not have boxes shipped out on a Friday (it will not be delivered until Monday, thereby compromising the sample).
  • Ready to submit your sample? Here is How to Submit Samples.

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