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Introduction of Specialty Farm Crops in Union County-2004 Report

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This is a 2004 report from a NC Specialty Crops Program Project. It is posted for historical reference purposes.

PROJECT LEADER(S): Robert W. Nesbit

LOCATION: Nesbit Farm, 3131 Parks McCorkle Road, Monroe, Union County, NC – 6 miles south of Monroe

This trial proved cantaloupes, honeydew melons, peppers and tomatoes, both roma and slicing, can be grown in the Southern Piedmont area. The peppers were various bell pepper, Ancho peppers and jalapeno grown to appeal to the growing Latino population in this area. Various herbs were also grown.

A Field Day was held on July 15, 2004 and was attended by approximately 50 people. The recipes that were used for the dinner, were made from the crops that we grew. There were four tour groups. The four tours went through the crops at various times and the people who attended the field day walked through the crops and observed them under their field conditions (their natural environment).


In my experience in working with this project through the year, I think this is a viable means of supplementing income for small farm growers. With the growth in Union County and surrounding areas, there is a lot of potential for selling this product at the local market or on the farm location.


Beginning in early spring of 2004 the plants (tomatoes, pepper and melons) were grown in a green house and planted into soil that had been limed and fertilized according to soil test. We started with overhead irrigation, but this was not satisfactory so beginning in early June, drip irrigation was installed. We pumped water for the irrigation that had been tested by the state university (not all water is good for this method).

Our first tomatoes started to ripen beginning June 1.

All crops were grown on bare ground that was sprayed with treflan. We had no weed problems. We kept a check on the melons and other crops for worms and found none. Beginning in early June, we diagnosed some of the melons with anthracnose. At this time, the county agent was called (Willie E. Wilson). The Experiment Station was contacted and they recommended spraying with Quadris. In June we sprayed the melons with Quadris. After about one week, we had no more problems. We continued to check for worms and it was recommended by the Experiment Station to put the melons on squares of plastic, since they were on bare ground. We used 12” squares of plastic and placed them under each of the melons. Beginning sometime around June 26, we noticed the Gallicum melons were developing some problems with rotting and splitting. The Experiment Station recommended that we spray with 2 oz of cal nitrate to 3 gallons of water to make the rines tougher. In about a week, we noticed no more problems in this area. Beginning in early July, rain was continuous and caused problems with all crops. We had to spray with fungicides to maintain the mildew and fungus.


The melons flourished during this time and when our field day arrived, we had an abundance of crops for display. Results were excellent.


I feel that these crops will grow here. This is a viable option for the small farm growers. If properly marketed, I believe the demand is here for local produce.

I believe that the crops should be grown, especially the melons and tomatoes, on raised beds and using plastic sheeting.


Varieties of Crops Grown


Early Goliath
Comments: Tomatoes are listed in the order of my preference. No problems in growing as far as splitting or ripening. They were all smooth and well shaped. No disease or insect problems.
Juan Conary
Fantasma (honeydew)
Comments: Cantaloupes are listed in the order of my preference. All melons with the exception of the Sprite were exceptionally sweet. The Gallicum and Juan Conary had some splitting problems. We had a little anthracnose on the Juan Conary and the Fantasma. We had some rotting problems with the Gallicum due to the tender rines; we sprayed this with a cal nitrate and water solution. We had not insect or worm problems, however, we had a few field mice. I would recommend getting rid of the field mice early in the season with poison placed at various places.
Summer Sweet Hybrid #830 (red)
Summer Sweet #8600 (yellow)
Purple Beauty
Figaro Hybrid
Giant Marconi Hybrid
Ancho Granada Hybrid
Sierra Fuego Hybrid
Jalapa Hybrid
Comments: All peppers did well. No problems. Very productive. The jalapenos were extremely productive. No problem with insects or worms.

Reviewed by Jeanine Davis, NC Alternative Crops & Organics Program, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University on 7/19/2022.