Harvest of crops across North Carolina has been ongoing for months and weather has generally been favorable for growers, unlike the wet months of the fall of 2018 after Hurricane Florence. The soil lab has already analyzed over 123,000 samples this fiscal year and many more samples will soon be coming over the next few months.
“The peak-season period this year begins Wednesday, Nov. 27, and will continue through Tuesday, March 31, 2020,” said David Hardy, NC Department of Agriculture chief of soil testing.
During the peak-season fee period, the cost of soil testing is $4 per sample. The fee originated in 2013 to encourage earlier sampling in the fall, one of the busiest times of the year for the lab. Outside of the peak season, soil testing is free to growers and homeowners. Soil samples are not accepted from out-of-state.
“Over the years, the lab has used the peak-season funds to automate and increase its efficiency to deliver soil test reports in a more timely manner,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The lab continues to do a super job for our growers. Up until about a week ago, the turnaround time for a grower to receive his report after sample submission was two weeks. This allowed growers with interest in wheat to get the crop in the ground as planned and for others, the ability to spread lime early for the upcoming 2020 crop.”
Access to the Eaddy Building for sample drop-off will be limited so growers need to keep this in mind. This year the gate will be closed during the Thanksgiving holiday ─ Wednesday, Nov. 27, at 5 p.m. through Monday, Dec. 2, at 6 a.m. During the peak-season period, sample drop-off times will be between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. There will be no after-hours drop-off of samples during peak season.
Growers are encouraged to submit sample information forms online. They can also pay peak-season fees with a credit card using a secure online payment service called PayPoint. Online submissions can be accessed through the PALS homepage at www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/PALS/ after a user account is established under the Utility link. Up-to-date turnaround times can also be found at www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/PALS/.
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 service guarantees a seven-business-day turnaround time if the lab is contacted and notified 24 hours in advance of the quantity being delivered. Otherwise, the guaranteed turnaround time of two weeks upon delivery at the lab is offered. These guarantees exclude the Christmas season. Unused expedited shippers can be used in following years.
Contact the Agronomic Services Division at 919-733-2655 for questions regarding the peak-season soil testing fee, online sample submission or the purchase of expedited shippers.