RALEIGH – Growers and home gardeners or landscapers are reminded to send in their soil samples to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Agronomic Services Lab by Nov. 25 at 6 p.m. to avoid upcoming peak-season fees.
There will be a $4 fee per sample for those received during the lab’s peak-processing time of Nov. 25 through March 31. Samples received before Nov. 25 or after March 31 will be processed without a fee. Most soil samples for home grounds and gardens can be collected April through November when the fee is not in effect.
“We implemented the peak-season fee in 2013 to better manage the processing of soil samples and help ensure growers get their information in time to plan for the upcoming season,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “We found that many people turned in their samples earlier, spreading the workload over more weeks and lessening a late rush of samples that created backlogs for testing in the lab.”
In 2013-2014, the Soil Testing Section analyzed around 330,000 samples, with turnaround times of one to two weeks by the first of February. In previous years, there was still a significant backlog of samples to be processed through mid to late March, making it difficult for growers waiting for results to plan for nutrient applications.
During the fee period, sample drop-off times at the Eaddy Building will be between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. There will be no after-hours access on the weekends.
Growers are encouraged to submit sample information forms online and pay with a credit card using a secure online payment service called PayPoint. Online submission can be accessed through the PALS homepage at www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/PALS/ after a user account is established under the Utility link. Payment can also be made with an escrow account.
If faster turnaround time is needed, the lab offers an expedited soil testing service on a limited basis. Growers can purchase expedited shippers, which can hold up to 36 soil samples, for $200 each while supplies last. The expedited shipper comes with a guaranteed turnaround time of two weeks upon delivery at the lab, excluding the Christmas holiday season where three weeks is guaranteed. Samples arriving in expedited shippers are excluded from the peak-season fee.
Contact the Agronomic Services Division office at 919-733-2655 for questions regarding the peak-season soil testing fee, online sample submission, escrow accounts or the purchase of expedited shippers.