Two Amazing Field Days This Week; Another Coming Up Next Week! Join Us.

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Field day attendees checking out the industrial hemp plots.

It was a busy but very rewarding week for my program. On Tuesday we held our annual Alternative Crops and Organics Field Day at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, NC. It was raining pretty steady during registration and that impacted our numbers-initially.

Set up in the barn for rainy day field day. Photo credit: Kaleb Rathbone.

We quickly set-up a screen and projector in the big barn so we could talk about our research in a dry environment. The station crew even brought in aluminum bleachers for seating. Just as we were ready to start, the station superintendent, Kaleb Rathbone, announced that it had quit raining! So we all quickly moved outside and loaded onto the trams to tour the plots.

Tractors with trams ready to transport field day attendees. Photo credit: Kaleb Rathbone.

The fields were very muddy, but that didn’t stop this very interested, dedicated group of people from walking out in those fields to look at the organic tomato breeding and variety trial plots and the Eastern Broccoli Project plots.

Visitors were impressed at the amount of growth that took place in 7 weeks.

By the time we reached the industrial hemp research plots, the sun had started to come out and another ten people or so had joined us. We spent a good amount of time discussing hemp production, processing, and uses. We also visited the hops breeding plots and the Black Perigord truffle orchards where we have reinoculation, light, and wood ash treatments. We finished the day with a casual Bring Your Own Lunch discussion about industrial hemp. There were about 35 people present for that and I really appreciate how open and sharing everyone was. Having some university folks from Tennessee with several years of experience with industrial hemp already was extremely helpful.

Field day attendees tasting new breeding lines developed by our breeders.

On Thursday, we held our annual Tomato Field Day at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River, NC. We had a big crowd show up to view all the tomato and other vegetable projects on this research station. Our role was to conduct our annual Tomato Taste Test where we feature samples of new breeding lines developed by Dr. Randy Gardner and Dr. Dilip Panthee. We had an enthusiastic crowd and many comments about how good some of the samples were.

Developing hop cones.

Next week, on Thursday, August 17th, we will hold our Hops Field Day at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River, NC. This is a twilight tour that will start at 6 p.m. and run till about 8 p.m. You will get to see how different varieties perform in our environment and some of the new breeding lines that Dr. Luping Qu is developing. We will also demonstrate the HopsHarvester that is on loan to us. (if you are a local hops grower, talk to us about bringing your hop bines here to be harvested). We welcome you to attend. Meet in the lower parking lot at 74 Research Drive, Mills River, NC.

Hop harvester that will be demonstrated at the field day.