Services | Plant Analysis

Are your plants hungry?

Plant analysis at Ward Laboratories reveals nutritional deficiencies that negatively impact crop yields.

Why do we recommend testing plant tissue?

Testing is recommended for two primary reasons:

  • to diagnose visible symptoms of poor plant health.
  • to monitor the plant’s nutrient content and adjust management techniques accordingly.

But my plants look great! Why do I need to test?

Here’s a common scenario: your plants seem to be thriving – but your crop yield at harvest just isn’t meeting expectations. Hidden plant hunger is a problem that many of our producers have struggled with. Sometimes your crop can exhibit zero visible symptoms, but still be deficient in key nutrients.

What causes nutritional problems in plants?

Excessive or insufficient nutrient levels in plant tissue are typically caused by a high rate of fertilizer applications combined with inadequate soil testing. We help our growers diagnose these imbalances through plant tissue analysis AND recommend corrective measures to encourage optimal plant health.

Not sure where to start with plant tissue testing?

Here are three popular options:

P-2. Routine Plant Tissue Testing

$31.65 USD

This is a great entry point for plant testing! Send us a sample, following directions for your individual crop. We’ll test your sample for nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, iron, manganese, copper, boron and molybdenum. You’ll receive a complete report of your results, allowing you to adjust management techniques accordingly.

P-4. Stalk Nitrate

$15.15 USD

Highly recommended for our corn growers, this test measures nitrogen present in corn stalks at the end of the growing season. Stalk nitrate testing provides vital data on the effectiveness of your nitrogen fertilizer application, allowing you to adjust as necessary and potentially save money on expensive inputs.

P-419. Cover Crop Routine

$52.25 USD

How effective is your cover crop at adding nutrient value to your soil? This test is designed to answer that question. We measure the levels of key nutrients present in your cover crop, providing you with the data you need to build the healthiest soil possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does testing cost?

Prices effective January 1, 2024. All prices are subject to change without notice.
All prices are in USD.

Download the 2024 Plant One-Pager

Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Sulfur, Zinc, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Boron, Molybdenum
P-205 P-2 + TOTAL CARBON $42.90
p-12 P-2 MINUS NITROGEN $21.45
Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Sulfur, Zinc, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Molybdenum, Boron, Chloride
A corn stalk nitrate sample is taken from 6 inches to 14 inches above the soil surface. A sample should contain 10-8-inch stalks.
Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Sulfur, Zinc, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Molybdenum, Boron, Total Carbon, C:N Ratio, Dry Matter (%), Forage Yield (ton/ac), Biomass Weight As Is
P-419 plus Chloride
P-405 Carbon:Nitrogen Ratio
Nitrogen, Total Carbon
with P-2, P-212, P-205, or P-3
Sodium $4.70
Available upon request with any mineral package  
Arsenic, Barium, Cadmium, Chromium, Cobalt, Lead, Nickel, Selenium, Strontium, Vanadium $23.65/metal/sample

Plant analysis provides two approaches to enhancing fertilizer effectiveness. One is the diagnostic approach where plant analysis is made when there is an obvious growth problem in the field. A sample is taken from the poor growing area and compared to a sample from an adjacent normal growing area.

Ward Laboratories, Inc. suggests using this diagnostic approach for researching production problems. The comparative samples are very important for proper interpretation of the analysis. The testing fee for the normal comparative sample is one- half the regular fee.

The monitoring approach is used to confirm that the plant has proper nutrition. Plant samples should be taken while the crops are at the bloom (reproductive) stage of growth. Samples taken earlier than bloom stage contain higher levels of nutrients. For this reason, it is very important to identify the growth stage for proper interpretation.

How Do I Take a Sample?

Click here for everything you need to know about sample types and sampling procedure!

Does Ward accept samples from any location?

Yes, however before submitting samples from outside the US, Ward Laboratories must submit an application through APHIS. Please email with the plant species and plant part to begin the process.

What can I do if the crop in one area of my field looks green and healthy, but another area does not?

We recommend sampling both areas of the field for a comparative analysis. When submitting samples for comparison, the first sample will be full price and the second sample is half price. It is helpful to include information in the comments of the submittal sheet about management practices in both areas.

What kind of bag do I put my sample in?

Plant samples should be submitted in a paper bag to ensure sample quality. Any paper bag will work, or you can order one straight from our lab. Do not submit plant samples in a plastic bag.

How do I take and submit a cover crop sample?

Harvest a 3’ x 3’ square of your growing crop. Clip all plants in the area at the soil surface with emphasis on excluding soil from the sample. Put all foliage from the sampled area in a large paper or yard waste bag.