RALEIGH – Starting Nov. 1, the Agronomic Services Division’s fee for nematode species identification through molecular diagnosis, will increase from $10 to $20. Even with the fee increase, the agency’s molecular diagnostic testing is less expensive than what other state labs are charging farmers for the same service.
Molecular diagnosis is the only way to identify nematodes to the species level, and interest in that level of identification is on the rise because of concern over the Guava root know nematode, which is a very damaging pest of sweet potatoes, said Dr. Colleen Hudak-Wise, director of the Agronomic Services Division.
“A heavy infestation of the Guava root knot nematode will severely impact the quality of sweet potatoes and make a whole field unmarketable,” Hudak-Wise said. “Identifying root knot nematodes to the species level is critical in monitoring and controlling the impact of the pest to the sweet potato industry.
“Since July 1 of this year, our nematode lab has performed more than 250 molecular diagnostic identifications,” Hudak-Wise added. “That is more than double the requests for the same time period last year. The molecular diagnostic procedures are highly technical, time consuming and expensive. The fee increases will go towards managing increased laboratory supplies and staffing needs to process samples.”
The regular $3 fee per sample will still be charged for a routine nematode assay, because that testing must be performed first to obtain the genetic material needed for molecular diagnostics, Hudak-Wise said. Out-of-state samples may also be submitted for molecular diagnosis, but there will be an added $10 surcharge for processing. All molecular diagnostic samples will be processed immediately upon being received, even during the peak laboratory season.
In fiscal year 2019, the Nematode Assay Laboratory had a record-breaking year, with over 52,300 samples processed, including 2,878 molecular diagnostic samples.
The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Agronomic Services Division provides diagnostic and advisory services that increase agricultural productivity, promote responsible land management and safeguard environmental quality.