We are at the beginning of the end of the fee period for soil testing by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. Dr. David Hardy, Chief of the Soils Division for NCDA’s Agronomics Division says the turnaround time has reduced significantly;
“Right now, we’re about two to three weeks, we’re working on the last few samples of the pre-fee period, samples received November 30th. We actually started processing samples that came in the first day of the fee, December 1st, last Friday. We should get through those pretty quickly because we didn’t get a whole lot of samples in December.”
Compared to 2016, Hardy says he feels the number of samples processed will be up:
“I think it will be up, I can’t give you an exact comparison to last year. But, to give you an example on November 30th, we received 40,000 samples in one day, those last three days of the fee-free period we were inundated pretty hard with samples coming in.
If you remember last year. But, to give you an example on November 30th, we received 40,000 samples in one day, those last three days of the fee-free period we were inundated pretty hard with samples coming in.
If you remember last year was a pretty wet year, people had a hard time with harvest; soybeans and cotton, and they had a hard time sampling, too. This year was an almost perfect harvest year, outside of the hurricane. Once Matthew came through things dried out, people got crops out of the field, people could pull samples. If anything, in the western part of the state, it was too dry, ground has been too hard to get a probe in the ground.”
The fee period for processing soil samples will end in March says Hardy:
“The end of March is the last day of the fee. So, April 1st will be the first non-fee samples we’ll be receiving, and it will go all the way up to roughly Thanksgiving again, through 2017. So, we’ve got a wide window of time for people to get samples to us on the free side of things, before the fee starts again.”
As in years past, there were a limited number of expedited shippers available to producers for soil sampling. Hardy says they offered that again this year, with a couple of extra perks:
“We sold every shipper we had this year. I think one of the enticing things about this year’s expedited service was we actually guaranteed a one-week turn-around time if people called us and gave us a 24 hour notice, so I think that encouraged people to buy them. And another selling point was that this year if you bought a shipper, it’s good for another year. Last year I think some people got burned on them a little bit because they couldn’t sample, and then once they did sample that turn-around time was back around two weeks.
But, this year, given those two things, especially the latter, like the forever postage stamp, was the big selling feature.”
Dr. David Hardy, Chief of the Soils Division for NCDA’s Agronomics Division.