The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Agronomic Services Division offers a wide range of tests and assistance that can be valuable for growers.

While some growers may only be familiar with certain services, they may want to consider using other agronomic tests offered by the department that can help diagnose and generate recommendations to fix specific problems.

For high-value nursery crops, in particular, plant/waste/solution/media testing enables growers to monitor production parameters and maintain quality. These tests can also be used to pin-point causes for problems and generate recommendations for management.

John Harmuth and Anthony Penny are two experienced Wake County growers who routinely use Agronomic Division services. Penny typically monitors pH and nutrient levels by having the soil tested before laying plastic or planting vegetables, whereas Harmuth relies on solution analysis before using new water sources for fertigation.

This past year, both men made use of the full range of testing and consulting services to resolve critical production issues.

Harmuth grows an assortment of herbs, including several kinds of mints. He roots mint from cuttings in a leaf-mold medium, fertilizes them with a complete fertilizer and within a few weeks has plants ready for sale. This past April, as warm weather began to stimulate growth, the tops of Harmuth’s plants suddenly turned a creamy yellow.