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RALEIGH – The busy season has begun for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Agronomic soil testing lab and growers, gardeners and homeowners are reminded to submit their samples before Dec. 1 to ensure faster turnaround on results and avoid peak-season testing fees.

The peak season is anticipated to run from Dec. 1 to March 31, 2023. During that time, there is a $4 fee per sample. Testing outside the peak season is free.

“Homeowners and community gardeners often have more flexibility in submitting samples, making it easier to submit soil samples before Dec. 1 or after the busy season beginning April 1,” said Soil Agronomist Jagathi Kamalakanthan. “Samples must be received prior to Dec. 1 at our building to avoid fees. Clients who deliver samples on or after Dec. 1 until busy season ends will be assessed a fee. Date of shipping or postmarking is not considered.”

Samples should be submitted in soil boxes provided by the Agronomic Division; samples are not accepted in other bags or boxes, Kamalakanthan said. Ample soil for testing should be supplied by filling to the red line found on the outside of the box. Information that is required on the box includes the client’s name, address and sample ID. This information is also needed on the soil sample information sheet that is to accompany the soil box; a valid telephone number and email address is also required.

Clients will supply a code that specifies the intended planting for specific recommendations; the code is found on the second page of the soil information sheet.

Supplies of soil sample boxes and information sheets are provided at local county Cooperative Extension Centers and at the Agronomic Services Division, 4300 Reedy Creek Road, Raleigh, NC 27607. For convenience, a fillable soil information form for routine homeowner samples is found at https://www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/documents/FormAD-15_corrected_logo.pdf.

Online soil submission is preferred over hand-written soil submission forms. Clients must first establish an account in the Public Access Laboratory- information-management System PALS for online submission and a copy of information form must be printed and submitted with the soil box. To avoid fees, online submission forms and boxes must be physically received at the division before Dec. 1. Online soil submission and instructions are found at NCDA&CS – Agronomic Services Division (ncagr.gov).

Soil test results are emailed to clients, so it is extremely important that a valid email address is used. Once the report is released, the client will receive an email with a link to the report.

“Additionally, providing a working phone number is highly encouraged as it is helpful for faster contact if there is an issue with soil sample submission,” Kamalakanthan said.

Clients are encouraged to ship samples tightly-packed in a sturdy, shipping box to avoid damage during transit. For faster delivery, private carriers such as UPS or FedEx deliver directly to the Agronomic building rather than an off-site mail center. Some Cooperative County Extension offices collect samples from homeowners for delivery to the division; clients are encouraged to make sure that delivery meets their intended expectations and needs.

Clients are encouraged to look at current turnaround time that estimates the time for results. This changes frequently during the year. Go to https://www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/PALS/Default.aspx. The sample turnaround time is based on the date the samples are received at our location.

Contact the Agronomic Services Division at 919-664-1600 with any questions.

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