Fruits and vegetables

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Maximum profits in row crop production depend on successful and accurate diagnosis of disease or insect damage. An accurate diagnosis can aid farmers in the implementation of an effective integrated pest management program. One important part of diagnosis is plant tissue samples to help identify issues and determine best management options.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System supports two plant diagnostic laboratories. One is at Auburn University; the other is located in Birmingham at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

The Plant Diagnostic Laboratory at Auburn University provides three services: plant problem diagnosis, soil nematodeanalysis, and insect identification. Plant problems sent to thelab include diseases, nematode injury, insect damage, chemical damage, environmental stress, horticultural and agronomic problems, or wildlife damage.

Plant samples at the Auburn University Plant Diagnostic Lab are initially examined by a plant pathologist. Some samples may then be referred to Extension specialists in entomology, agronomy, horticulture, or wildlife.

In addition to plant problem diagnosis, soil nematodeanalysis, and insect identification, plants are also received for identification. These plants are referred to agronomists andhorticulturists who typically respond to the inquiries.

Download the plant samples submission form. 

IPM guides for other crops as well as a general IPM overview, safety recommendations and directions for submitting samples can be found at Integrated Pest Management Guides.

For questions about accessibility or to request accommodations, contact Extension Communications and Marketing at 334-844-5696 or

*This is an excerpt from Citrus Pest Identification and Management Guide, ANR- 2270.

The most characteristic symptom of HLB is blotchy mottling that appears asymmetrically on the leaf blade. Green islands may also occur; these are small, circular, dark green dots that contrast with the light yellow/green background. Foliar symptoms that resemble nutrient deficiencies may be present. A tree may exhibit yellow shoots or other nutrient deficiency symptoms on one or more branches randomly in the canopy. Fruit may be small and lopsided or ripen backward, with the stylar end remaining green as the fruit colors.

Management tips: Citrus greening has not been found in Alabama to date. If citrus greening is suspected, contact your local diagnostic lab.


Read more about Citrus Pest Identification and Management Guide.

Download a PDF of Citrus Pest Identification and Management Guide, ANR- 2270.

Trap cropping is a unique cultural insect control tactic that deters pest feeding damage and works for certain insect pests; my focus has been leaffooted bugs and stink bugs with the sorghum-sunflower system we recommend. If you haven’t experienced it, then it is worth trying on small scale and then expand it for a full-fledged adoption.

As an entomologist, I was skeptical of the large scale use of the trap crops but that all changed as I started doing bigger vegetable test plots and IPM demonstrations to increase my confidence. The seeds are cheap and a bag of NK-300 sorghum or Peredovik sunflower lasts a while! By using sorghum and sunflower trap crop system on nearly 5.5 acres of vegetables across three locations (come to any of the IPM field days to see the trap crops in action), the vegetable IPM program has reduced spraying of main crops (tomatoes/peppers/squash) for leaffooted bugs by as much as three applications of neonicotinoids that otherwise would be needed in rotation with weekly synthetic pyrethroids applications. Overall, by only spraying the top of the NK300 sorghum panicle to kill the leaffooted bugs, we have also increased the beneficial insect population within trap and main crops.

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