The “green industry” which includes greenhouse, nursery, Christmas tree, and turf and landscape products and services has an annual economic impact of approximately $3 billion dollars in Virginia. In a globalized world, one of the largest challenges facing the green industry, and agriculture in general, is the ongoing threat of foreign plant diseases. Phytophthora ramorum, the Plum Pox Virus (PPV), Thousand Canker Disease, various cyst nematodes and Chrysanthemum White Rust (CWR) are just a few examples of exotic diseases that threaten plant health and pose trade barriers.
The VDACS Plant Pathology Program and Laboratory helps protect the green industry and growers of agricultural commodities throughout the Commonwealth from diseases of regulatory significance by providing diagnostic services and coordinating statewide plant pathology surveys.
The services we provide
Each year the lab processes over 2,000 plant samples as part of statewide surveys for P. ramorum, CWR, PPV, and potato cyst nematodes. In addition to state-wide surveys that target specific pathogens, the lab receives 300 to 500 routine nursery samples each year. Routine samples typically are sent in by VDACS nursery inspectors who are trained to recognize potential disease issues. Approximately 10% of the samples received are sent in directly by nursery staff. The lab uses microscopy, culturing, protein analysis, and DNA fingerprinting to identify and detect plant pathogens. Clients are provided diagnostic results and science-based management recommendations.