Sampson County horticulture changes

Della King Contributing columnist

October 21, 2013

Question: What is peak-season soil testing and how will it affect me?

Answer: Earlier this year, the Appropriations Act was passed by the General Assembly to approve a $4 fee for soil samples analyzed by the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services beginning the end of November to the end of March. This fee charge is an attempt to lessen the backlog related to what historically has been the busy testing season.

With the new peak season fee charge, NCDA is hoping to accomplish two goals. First, it will encourage people to submit samples earlier in the year, therefore balancing the sample load throughout the year. Secondly, the fee will provide sustainability of the soil-testing program because receipts generated in fiscal years 2014 and 2015 are being earmarked for improvements to the lab including automated equipment, additional peak season personnel, and enhancements to the computer program. Most of the samples that arrive during peak season are from farms in preparation for the spring planting season. Samples associated with home gardens and landscapes can be collected and submitted between April and November. Please contact your local Extension Center if you have any questions regarding the soil sampling changes.

On another note, this is my final article as a Sampson County Horticulture Agent. My new responsibilities include field crops, pesticide education, the commercial green industry, and beekeeping. However, during these changing times for Sampson County and for NC Cooperative Extension as a whole, rest assured that you will have continued support for your home gardening and landscape issues that may arise. There will still be articles in the paper pertaining to consumer horticulture, but not on a weekly basis. We ask you to please be patient with the Sampson County Extension staff as we attempt a smooth transition due to staffing changes and overall changes across the state. Thank you for your support and encouragement throughout my 9.5 years horticulture career in Sampson County. I will remain in Sampson County, just in a different facet. I look forward to the opportunity to provide other program and research opportunities.

Reminder: Please call the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center at 910-592-7161 with your horticultural questions and to register for any upcoming events. Be sure to check out the Ask An Expert Widget at for any questions you may have.