Diagnostic plant clinic services

Diagnostic plant clinic services

STC are pleased to provide an independent diagnostic ‘Plant Clinic’ service (effectively a ‘one-stop’ shop) to aid resolution of crop problems for growers, consultants, technical representatives, supermarket technologists, distributors, importers, loss adjusters and others in the ‘growing’ industry. The primary aim of the service is to quickly identify the cause of a particular problem and to minimise financial loss either in the current crop and in future crops. Using a team of trained specialists with broad industry knowledge of salad crops, vegetables, soft fruit and ornamentals we can quickly check affected samples for pathogens (fungi, bacteria, viruses), pests, nutritional imbalances, cultural, chemical or other factors that might be responsible for their demise.

Ghost spot (botrytis) on tomato
Ghost spot (botrytis) on tomato
Sclerotinia apothecia
Sclerotinia apothecia

How to use our service?
As speed is important, the quickest way is to send us a sample of the affected crop by courier or post (providing you can avoid the week-end). Alternatively, if you are local, you can drop samples in directly. To ensure we get as much relevant information as possible please download a copy of the Clinic submission form here (Acrobat PDF File) and fill in as much detail as possible and dispatch with the sample, ensuring you include a contact address, phone number and email address where possible.

We are also happy to receive digital images of crop problems, though we have found it quite difficult to accurately diagnose problems using this approach to date and often find it necessary to receive samples for a ‘hands-on’ examination.

We hold plant health licences and are therefore able to accept samples in the Plant Clinic from outside the UK. Our containment facilities and controlled disposal of material techniques are setup to deal with such samples safely.

Range of Services
In addition to the standard Plant Clinic examination of plant material we offer many other services either directly or indirectly via third parties. For example, we undertake water & compost testing for specific pathogens as appropriate e.g. Pythium & Phytophthora. The water testing can be very useful for anyone using a recirculation system or utilising slow sand filtration as a means of biological disinfection.

For a detailed breakdown of the various services we provide please click here. We can also offer a bespoke service for particular requirements and also undertake nursery audits for specific high risk pathogens as part of a ‘due diligence’ strategy as required, subject to availability of suitable tests.

Sample Dispatch
It is important that the samples reach us in good condition therefore think carefully how you are going to package them. Most samples survive well when they are wrapped in newspaper in a padded envelope. For larger samples use a sturdy cardboard box. Where soil or compost is included either place this in sealed plastic bags or similar containers or cover the top of pots & trays to hold it in place during transit. If you want to dispatch water samples for analysis then either use a well washed drinks bottle (minimum of 0.5L) or telephone us first and we can dispatch suitable bottles to you. For more information relating to sample dispatch click here.

Reporting Progress
On receipt of the sample in the Plant Clinic it is logged in and given a unique reference number. We then undertake a preliminary examination of the sample to determine if an immediate diagnosis can be provided based on examination under low power (x 100) stereo zoom & high power (x 400) binocular microscopes or whether further testing will be required. If the problem can be diagnosed without additional tests a final report will be issued by email (or fax) and by post, usually on the same day of receipt. Where no immediate diagnosis can be made we normally issue an interim report (by email (or fax) and post following the initial examination to advise you of our initial thoughts on the sample and whether it might be worth taking some preventative measures
until such time that we can elucidate the primary cause of the problem. At this point we subsequently issue a final report.

It is also worth noting that we are available to talk to clients by telephone if they want to know a little more about the problem and we can offer advice on pesticide use using BASIS qualified staff, so don’t hesitate from calling us.

Invoicing
Once we have completed tests on a particular sample we will trigger an invoice for the work completed. If you require this to go to a different address please indicate this clearly on the submission form.

Fees
We have a fixed price for the initial examination of plant material to investigate cause of crop loss. This is currently £75.00/sample. However, it is important to note that for some tests e.g. bacteria
or virus determination additional tests will be incurred, though we normally contact you in advance of undertaking such tests.

Cavity spot on carrot
Cavity spot on carrot
Botrytis cinerea cultures
Botrytis cinerea cultures

 

For a more detailed breakdown of the costs of the various services provided by the Plant Clinic please click here. Please note that we may also be able to undertake tests other than those listed here and in these cases it is advisable to ring us first to discuss your specific requirements.

Consultancy Services
At STC we have a number of highly trained staff who are able to provide advice and support to members of the horticultural industry.

The three main areas of expertise are;

We are able to provide information to growers and industry specialists either on an ad hoc basis, or as a regular feature. If you have on-going problems that require a more in-depth problemsolving approach please feel free to contact us to discuss possible solutions and access to our knowledge base on a consultancy basis.