Time for Leaf Analysis

The next two weeks will be the best time to collect your leaves for mineral nutrient analysis.  The appropriate time for leaf collection is between July 20th and August 20th. Leaf testing is available through UVM Agricultural and Environmental Testing Laboratory (phone: 802-656-3030 or 1-800-244-6402). Instructions for leaf sampling collections are included in this letter (orange insert). Please follow the instructions carefully so as to avoid any mistakes in the analysis. The fall is a good time to do the soil analysis. It is important to do both tests because these tests complement each other. The soil analysis tests will give you an assessment of the acidity and the fertility of the soil before the growing season, whereas leaf analysis gives you the nutritional status of the plant during the growing season. I will send a reminder in the fall for your soil analysis. It is a good idea to look at leaf analysis as a way of saving money and preventing deficiency as well as toxicity problems. Nutrient toxicity problems can be as troublesome as deficiency problems.  The results of this analysis will tell you whether you need a specific element or not and if your current fertilizer program is correct.


  1. TIME TO SAMPLE: Between July 20th and August 20th.

  1. WHAT TO SAMPLE: Select 60 to 100 leaves from the middle of current season terminal shoots. If sampling is done later than July 25th, select the first full-sized, mature leaf behind the shoot tip. Select 1 or 2 leaves per shoot from several shoots on each of several trees exposed to light. Shoots to be sampled should be 5 to 7 feet above ground level in larger-sized trees and 3 to 6 feet above ground level in smaller sized trees ( young trees, trellised or slender spindle plantings). Shoots sampled should be of average vigor ( length and diameter ) for the trees in the planting.

AVOID excessively strong shoots ( near pruning cuts ) and extremely weak shoots.
DO NOT include spur leaves.
DO NOT include leaves damaged by disease, insects, weather or mechanical injury.
DO NOT mix leaves from trees of different varieties.

  1. TREES SAMPLED should represent the average condition within the orchard unless special    samples are being taken to determine cause(s) of a distinct problem or condition.

  1. SOIL CONDITIONS , PAST FERTILIZER PRACTICES, AND SPRAY PROGRAMS  should be uniform (similar) over the entire area sampled. If any of these conditions are different in various parts of the orchard, it will be necessary to sample these areas separately.

  1. COLLECTING AND HANDLING SAMPLES: Remove the leaves by pulling downward so the petiole remains attached to the leaf. Place leaves in a dry paper bag or perforated plastic bag and immediately label the bag so that you will know where it came from.

WASH the leaves before they wilt to remove spray residues and dirt. Gently rub the leaves together in a mild detergent solution  ( dish washing detergent in tap water ). SEE FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS FOR WASHING LEAVES.
Place sample in a dry paper bag, with top open, and let dry at room temperature until leaves are brittle.

  1. FILL OUT  the sample information sheet. BE SURE that the leaf sample bag and the information sheet have been marked with the same identification number.

Each sample bag must have:
  • Your name and /or orchard
  • Address
  • Variety and Age
  • Block identification number, letter or name
  • Secured closure ( stapled or taped )

  1. MAKE OUT a check or money order payable to UVM Testing Service and enclose check, information sheets and leaf sample in a mailing carton.

COST PER SAMPLE: $20.00 includes N, K, Ca, Mg, P, B, Mn, Zn, N:K, and K:Mg rates.

  1. Seal the carton with tape appropriate for shipping.

  1. Mail or bring the carton to the Agricultural Testing Lab, Rm. 219 Hills Building, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont 05405


  1. Wash  the leaf samples while still fresh, before they wilt. If a large number of samples are involved they can be stored overnight in a cold storage, refrigerator, or ice chest to keep them from drying out.

  1. Use distilled water, available at most drugstores, for washing and rinsing the samples. Change the water as it becomes dirty or after 8 to 10 samples ( whichever occurs first ). Gently and lightly scrub the leaves together in a mild detergent solution ( most dish washing detergents are satisfactory ).

  1. Shake to remove the excess water and immediately rinse the sample in clean, distilled water. Again shake to remove excess water.

  1. Spread out sample on clean paper towels until leaf surfaces are dry.

  1. Transfer sample to paper bag, with top open, and dry at room temperature until the leaves are brittle.

NOTE: Do not let leaves stand in water--complete the washing and rinsing process in one minute or less.

Lab Sample Number: ________________________    Date Sample Collected: ___________________________
              Telephone Number: ______________________________

Grower Address: ________________________________________

Orchard Name or Block: ______________________AVERAGE TREE AGE: ________________
Spur Type (  ) or Non Spur (  )        Rootstock (main): ________________________________

Overall Tree Vigor (circle):       GOOD    MEDIUM    POOR

Average Terminal Growth (circle):  <6"    7" to 14"    15" to 23"   >24"
"very important to note"

General Leaf Size (circle):   LARGE   NORMAL    SMALL

Overall Green Leaf Color (circle):  DARK   MEDIUM    LIGHT OR PALE

Crop Load This Year (circle):   NONE   LIGHT    MODERATE   HEAVY

Soil Type: ___________________________

Soil Drainage Good:     YES (  )   NO (  )

Is a Herbicide Program Being Used:  YES (  )   NO (  )
Is an Irrigation  Program Being Used:  YES (  )   NO (  )
FERTILIZER PROGRAM (Ground or spray) for the current year
Amount per acre (  ) or per tree (  )

Nitrogen: ________________________Boron: _________________________
Potassium: _____________________  Calcium: _______________________
Magnesium: ______________________Lime: _________________________
(and when last applied) ____________________________

Other Nutrients__________________________________________________


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