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Systems Exploration for Specialty Crops-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 It is posted for historical reference purposes.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): Kathryn Holmes – Rockingham County Horticulture Agent

Farm Trial: Tom and Deuard Johnstone Farm
302 Unicorn Rd
Reidsville, NC 27320 Rockingham County

Evening Program: August 11, 2004
Rockingham County Agriculture Center
525 Hwy 65, Reidsville, NC 27320

The Johnstones had the biggest impact. They discovered they could produce a variety of cutflowers well and sell them off the farm and at the Greensboro Curb Market. The cutflowers are a good companion crop to their blueberries. They averaged $100 a week from their cutflower sales. This was their first year and they think they will produce cutflowers another season and increase their customers next year and increase sales.

The August 11, 2004 Cut Flower Farm Trial and Program was attended by fifteen people. The evening was raining but they came with umbrellas! The people that attended were serious about growing cutflowers commercially. At the program there was very good audience participation and discussions.

The Reidsville Review Newspaper printed an article on the program.


A blueberry farmer and I conducted an on farm trail of cutflowers. The flowers were to be a companion crop to his blueberries and be sold off the farm and at the Greensboro Curb market where he sold his blueberries. He had tried cutflowers before and they were very discouraged.

A Farm Trial Tour and Evening Program was held. Dr. Carl Niedziela from NC A &T was conducting some Greenhouse Cutflower Trials in Rockingham County was added to the program.


The site the farmer chose for the trial needed some pre-plant preparations. He hired a neighboring farmer to prepare the soil for direct seeding of flowers. Tom took a soil sample and applied fertilizer pre-plant and then twice more during the growing season. Wet weather delayed the first planting. The first planting of Glads was May 14, 2004 and annual seeds May 25, 2004. The second planting of glads, annual seeds, and ageratum transplants was June 14, 2004. The zinnias were sprayed with a fungicide three times during the season. The herbicide Preen was applied to the rows as well as hoeing to control weeds. Since we used border glads no staking was required.


The Rudbeckia seeds never germinated. The border glads, zinnias, pollen free sunflowers, and ageratum produced and sold very well. The earlier plantings produced larger numbers of plants, higher yields, and healthier looking flowers.

The Johnstones started harvesting cutflowers July 16th and sold at the Greensboro Curb Market for the first time July 17, 2004. They averaged $100 a week on flower sales. The flowers sold faster in already prepared bunches compared to single stem flowers.


Tom and Deuard Johnstone were very impressed with the results of the trial both yield and sales. They plan to plant cutflowers again and make sure they have even earlier flowers to go with the blueberries. Other people who attended the field day and farm trial will produce more flowers too, especially the border glads that are longer than they expected. All the people at the program asked for grant money!

I learned a lot about cutflowers and the selling of the flowers. The Program with Carl Niedziela from NC A&T on his greenhouse cutflower work was very informative too.

Reviewed by Jeanine Davis, NC Alternative Crops & Organics Program, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University on 7/27/2022.