June Update-Broccoli, Hemp, Hops, and Herbs!

— Written By hands setting a young hemp plant into white plastic mulched bed

6/11/2021 – By Katherine Learn, graduate student/research assistant, and Margaret Bloomquist, research associate (this article was also sent to our subscribers on MailChimp)

Transitioning from late spring into early summer brings busy days in the field, thorough land preparation, and bubbling excitement for research on our favorite alternative and organic crops.

Our hops are in the ground!

Young hops growing on a trellis

Pictured above, our established hop yard in Mills River is growing quickly in the recently warm weather. Dr. Luping Qu, breeder and research specialist, and research assistants in the Jeanine Davis’s program tend the hop yards carefully training bines, weeding between plants, and scouting for disease and insects.

Both of our on-farm collaborators, Hoppin’ J’s and Bee Hoppy Farm, have also recently transplanted our experimental Southeastern hop breeding lines in their hop yards. Having on-farm collaborators spread across the state allows us to observe our hops in real-world settings with varying climates and agricultural inputs.

Hooray for Hemp!

two people planting hemp plants in raised beds with white plastic

The first planting of the Planting Date/Harvest Date study is in the ground at two locations: the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center (shown here) and at the Piedmont Research Station. Two more plantings will be set in mid-June and early-June. Here research assistant, Patrick, and research associate, Margaret, are tenderly hand setting the plants. Photo by Katie Learn

This year, we have four different hemp projects. Pictured above, the first planting date of our Planting Date/Harvest Date trial is in the ground at two locations: the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center in Mills River (shown here) and at the Piedmont Research Station in Salisbury. There will be two more planting dates in mid-June and early July at both sites.

We planted the mountain location of our 20-strain floral hemp variety trial on June 3rd. In collaboration with Dr. David Suchoff, it is also planted at the Piedmont Research Station in Salisbury and at the Lower Coastal Plain Tobacco/Cunningham Research Station in Kinston, NC. Additionally, we have a 7-variety, 3 planting date dryer trial to study the efficacy of utilizing flue-cured tobacco barns to dry hemp to industry standard.

view from back of seeder sowing fiber hemp seeds

Our hemp fiber trial has been seeded at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville. We planted 10 varieties to test their ability to produce a quality fiber product. The station crew at the Mountain Research Station gave us a beautiful plot of land with nesting eagles. We’re excited to share future pictures!

Eastern Broccoli Project

Young broccoli and kale growing on raised beds with white plastic

Young broccoli and kale in a breeding study with the Eastern Broccoli Project. At the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville. Photo by Margaret Bloomquist.

The first planting date of our Eastern Broccoli Project trial has been in the ground for three weeks at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville (pictured above). For this planting date, we have 47 varieties/breeding lines that span the past decade of evaluating summer grown broccoli for stress tolerance in western NC. Our second planting date will be planted mid-June and will consist of 30 varieties/breeding lines.

Interested in Woodland Botanicals?

leaf of bloodroot in the woods

We host a monthly Woodland Stewards event in our demonstration woods at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center in Mills River. At these workshops we mentor new forest farmers by working in the woods together, demonstrating seed saving, practicing woodland botanical identification, learning data collection procedures, and more. If you are interested in attending these events or learning more about our woodland projects, please contact Margaret Bloomquist at margaret_bloomquist@ncsu.edu.

Check Out What Some of Our Graduate Students are Up to!

floral hemp planted in a colored plastic mulch trial

MS student, Gwen Casebeer, and PhD candidate, Meagan Coneybeer, have been studying the effect of different colored plastics on soil microbiology and the production of floral hemp. Here’s what Gwen has to say:

“We’re gearing up for our third season of graduate research on the effects of colored plastic mulches on hemp floral production and soil microbial activity. Thanks to the generosity of Onset, we were able to deploy HOBO Pendant MX Temperature and Light data loggers at four on-farm trials in 2020. Data loggers were placed in the soil underneath each color of plastic mulch at all farms. Temperature and light readings were collected from the loggers every 30 minutes for the entire field season. The temperature outputs from the loggers will be correlated with microbial activity in the soil, which will enable us to determine how temperature under the plastic mulches affects the composition of the soil microbial community. In 2021, we intend to replicate our experiment at the same sites. We are so grateful to Onset for the opportunity to use their data loggers in this novel research.”

If you would like to be on one or more of our MailChimp lists to receive updates from our program, please email Margaret_Bloomquist@ncsu.edu and indicate whether you want to be on the general program, truffles, hops, and/or medicinal herb lists. You can also subscribe to news updates from this website through this link.