Senator Susan Collins tours the Cooperative Extension Diagnostic Lab prior to holding her Tick Hearing. Adam Küykendall


STATE — The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab in Orono, which identifies diseases and provides management plans to gardeners, farmers, nurseries, and members of the lawn care industry, received over 800 physical samples from nine different states in 2023. Also last year, the lab launched a new process for digital submission which resulted in 400 additional samples.

For many years, the lab has been able to provide this service to our in-state customers at no cost. However, due to rising costs of ever-evolving diagnostic tests, the lab is implementing new fees in an effort to recover a portion of its expenses and ensure it can continue to support Maine growers and gardeners.

Starting May 1, 2024, the Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab will charge $18 for general in-state samples. Out-of-state sample fees will be increased to $38. Garlic seed testing fees will increase to $38 for in-state and $68 for out-of-state samples. All digital submissions will cost $8. The lab also offers various specialized tests. Details on all tests and fees can be found on the lab’s webpage.

In 2023, the lab made more first detections of disease in the state than any other year, which included a new fungal disease on tomatoes and fir trees. The lab also provided confirmation testing for beech leaf disease for the Maine Forest Service, confirming the existence of the disease in five Maine counties. The lab added three new molecular tests for improved virus and nematology detection.

The mission of Extension’s Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab is to enhance the success of Maine agricultural industries and gardeners by reducing losses due to disease and minimizing management costs by providing early and accurate disease identification.

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