The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is urging farmers to take time in the next few weeks to send samples to the Agronomic Division’s nematode assay laboratory.

Samples can now be processed within 10 working days. This quick turnaround gives growers time to manage potentially damaging nematode populations before planting.

Plant-parasitic nematodes are microscopic worms that live in the soil, feed on plant roots and reduce yield and quality of many crops. They are particularly damaging in sandy soils in the eastern part of the state.

This year’s mild winter increases the likelihood that nematode populations will reach damaging levels in the upcoming growing season. Control measures must be taken before planting. Once a crop is in the field, it is usually too late to correct a nematode problem.

“Now is a good time to take nematode samples for cotton, soybeans, tobacco, sweet potatos, Bermuda pasture and vegetable crops,” said Weimin Ye, Nematode Assay Section chief. “These crops are highly susceptible to nematode damage, and $3 per sample is a small price to pay to find out if chemical treatment would be worthwhile.”

The NCDA&CS Agronomic Division is well stocked with sampling boxes. Information sheets and sampling instructions are available online at www.ncagr.com/agronomi/.

If you need supplies, please contact your local NCDA&CS regional agronomist, visit your county Cooperative Extension office, or drop by the Agronomic Division office at 4300 Reedy Creek Road in Raleigh.

For more information, contact the NCDA&CS Agronomic Division at 1-919 733-2655.