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NC Commissioner Troxler: Expect Delays in Routine Nematode Test Results

The NCDA&CS Nematode Assay Lab is warning growers submitting routine nematode tests about long delays of 15 weeks or more in getting test results. The delays are due to increased testing and being short staffed. Analyzing the samples is highly detailed work that requires a year of specialized training for nematode technicians. Diagnostic testing, including molecular diagnosis of guava root-knot nematode, will be given priority with sample turnaround times of around five working days.

 Our Nematode Assay Lab is warning growers submitting routine nematode test samples to expect long delays of up to 15 weeks or more for results. That’s the “not good” news.

 The “better news” is that diagnostic testing, including molecular diagnosis of guava root-knot nematode, will be prioritized and is expected to take around five working days for results.

 The nematode lab has seen a big increase in testing, while also being short staffed. Currently, there are 15,400 samples waiting test results.

 With current staffing, only 200 samples can be processed each day, which is why long delays are expected.

 Obviously, no one is happy about the delays, but we are working hard to address the issue. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix because of the detailed nature of the work. It takes a full year of training for nematode technicians.

 The extensive training makes sense when you consider the lab can test soil samples for the presence of 46 different plant-parasitic nematodes, which are microscopic threadlike worms that live in the soil.

 We have hired two new staff members who are in training now. Plus, we have hired five temporary employees to help extract nematodes from samples in preparation for analysis by trained staff.

 Given the expected delays, growers may want to consider whether assay results will be ready in time to make management control decisions before submitting additional routine nematode samples to the lab.

 Again, this involved routine nematode testing. If growers need diagnostic testing for guava root-knot nematode, those samples will be prioritized, and growers can expect to get results in around five days.

 If you can questions about nematode testing, you can contact the lab at 919-664-1600.