Plant Pathology

At Hawkins plant pathology encompasses agricultural, horticultural, forestry, marine and contamination claims.  Our experts are experienced in investigating the causes of plant diseases, crop failures and spoilage of fresh produce and agricultural cargoes.

Plant pathology is the study of any factors that cause a plant to express symptoms that are abnormal for the plant in the environment in which it is growing.  These symptoms could be leaf spots, tissue discolouration, blight, wilting, stunting, dieback, cankers, tumours, abnormal growth, deformed plant parts or combinations of the above.

During transport and storage post-harvest rots, moulds, breakdown, contamination and collapse of grains, fresh produce, dry produce and plant products can also occur rendering the shipment unmarketable.

The causal factors of symptoms can be biotic (other living organisms) or abiotic (non-living things).

  • Diseases are generally caused by biotic factors such as fungi and fungal-like organisms, viruses and virus-like organisms, bacteria and invertebrates such as nematodes (microscopic worms), mites and insects.
  • The term disorders generally refers to problems caused by abiotic factors such as pesticides, nutrition and environmental influences including temperature, humidity, sun, wind, precipitation, soil or growing medium.

Plant genetics or physiology can also cause unusual symptoms in plants.

Hawkins can provide an expert who is familiar with a range of different symptoms and can offer answers to your questions.

Forensic investigation

  • We provide you with the answers you need to determine why an incident occurred.
  • Our experts are knowledgeable in their subject areas and can investigate all aspects of a plant pathology case, meaning that you will probably only need to instruct Hawkins alone.
  • We have access to laboratories that can perform the analyses specific to your case.
  • We can help you to determine if an incident could have been avoided and advise on whether it can be prevented in the future.

How does Hawkins investigate plant pathology cases?

We like to speak to you before we conduct any work, to establish if we can add any value to the case. These discussions help us to understand your requirements, as well as determining how much information is already available, including for example, the affected crop or cargo, data records, first-hand witness accounts, photographs, and videos. We are also happy to provide you with an estimate of the cost of conducting a forensic investigation.

If required and with your agreement, we will arrange to visit the scene to inspect the site. Wherever possible, we will take samples of the affected plant material, fruit, vegetables or grain for microscopic examination and laboratory analysis, where a range of equipment and tests are used to determine the cause of the problem.

Once our examination and tests are complete, we will discuss our findings with you and prepare a report containing a detailed account of our investigation, conclusions, and where appropriate, further work or advice.

Examples of cases

If you would like to know if we can help, please fill out our enquiry form or give us a call for a free consultation.  Below are a few examples of cases but our expertise is not limited to these areas, so please contact us if you think we could help.

  • Crop losses caused by diseases or disorders
  • Contamination of bulk grains, pulses, fruits & vegetables
  • Rots and moulds of fresh produce
  • Self-heating of stored produce
  • Germination failure
  • Pesticide damage to plants or produce, known as phytotoxicity

Contact James Townsend for more information, and with any enquiries you may have.

Plant pathology is the study of any factors that cause a plant to express symptoms that are abnormal for the plant in the environment in which it is growing.

Contact Us

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