Specialty Crops We Are Studying-Arrange Tours to See

— Written By and last updated by Cloe Nichols
group of people visiting a woodland herbs site
A group visiting the woodland herbs site in April 2013
I am getting many more inquiries than usual about what specialty crops we are working on this year and if folks can come out to see them. We love to show off what we are doing because you are the reason we are doing the work! That said, we are short-staffed, all my staff are paid for through grants, and time is limited. So, if you would like to visit, please try to arrange for a group of people to come. It makes much better use of our time to tell ten people about a project at one time than to have ten separate visits. Also, please consider making a donation to our program when you come. Those donations help us pay for the signs to label the plots and labor to keep everything looking “company ready” and to serve as tour guides.
These are the projects we have going this year that you might be interested in:
1.      Hops-definitely number #1 in popularity right now! We have a research hop yard with ten varieties at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station in Mills River. Contact Kelly_Gaskill@ncsu.edu to arrange a tour.
2.      Woodland Botanicals, including ginseng, goldenseal, black cohosh, bloodroot, and ramps-We have a demonstration research area in the woods that several extension agents are bringing tour groups through this year. My staff provide a good commentary as you walk through.  Contact Margaret_Bloomquist@ncsu.edu to arrange a tour. At the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station in Mills River.
3.      Chinese Medicinal Herbs-we have a demonstration/testing growing and processing area at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station in Mills River. We grow, learn, harvest, process, and test herbs from these plots. We had a great hands-on workshop with these last fall that we will probably repeat. Contact Alison_Dressler@ncsu.edutoo arrange a visit.
4.      Black Perigord Truffle Orchards-We have two truffle orchards planted at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville. Both are filberts; one was planted in 2010 and the other last week. To arrange a tour contact Kelly_Gaskill@ncsu.edu.
5.      Echinacea-We have two large trials for Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station in Mills River and at the Upper Piedmont Research Station in Reidsville. There are six seed sources for each species and there are plants that will be harvested this year after two years of growth and a set that will grow through next year, too. Contact Lijing_Zhou@ncsu.edu to arrange a visit.
6.      Organic Broccoli-There is a participatory variety trial for broccoli and broccoli rabb on the organic unit at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville. In August there will be a workshop where attendees will help rate the varieties. You can arrange a tour by contacting Margaret_Bloomquist@ncsu.edu.
7.      Conventional Broccoli Trials-We have a multi-state study underway where we are evaluating new breeding lines and varieties of broccoli at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville. Five planting dates, grown on white plastic, geared to wholesale producers. Contact Kelly_Gaskill@ncsu.edu if you want to tour it.
8.      Stevia-We are still waiting to see if this project launches or not, but the interest in the crop has definitely been raised. We hope to have several fields of three chemotypes of stevia growing at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station in Mills River. If the funding doesn’t come through, we will at least have a small number of plants (50 to 100) planted out that people can see what the plants look and taste like. To visit contact Lijing_Zhou@ncsu.edu.
a hop yard
The hop yard in 2012.