North Carolina is a lead producer of both tree and small fruits. Our fruit breeding programs span diverse crops and are using modern breeding techniques to develop new varieties with superior traits that are ideally suited for production in North Carolina and beyond. Active tree fruit research programs focus on peaches, pecans and apples. Cane fruit, strawberries and grapes are also emphasized as research priorities.
Small Fruit Research
Caneberry (blackberry and raspberry) production are important components of the robust small fruit industries in North Carolina. Blackberry production is estimated to have an annual farm gate value of $14,000,000. Raspberry production is a smaller but growing industry in the western higher elevation part of the state. Caneberry production research initially focused on training in basic production practices and development of production budgets. More recent cultural work has focused on training of primocane-fruiting cultivars (blackberry and raspberry) to extend the production season, tunnel production, identification of cold damage to floral buds and fruit potential of secondary buds, post-harvest attributes and night harvest of fruit. We work closely with, post-harvest physiologists, NC State University entomologists and the State Climate Offices.
Tree Fruit Research
North Carolina is a significant producer of apples and peaches, ranking in the top ten states for both. There are significant research programs at NCSU addressing the most significant horticultural issues facing the production of these crops in NC and the southeast. For both crops, evaluating rootstocks that are size-controlling and can be used successfully in replant sites is a major area of research. In addition, evaluating higher density orchard systems that can be profitably and sustainably used is an area of much interest. NC is also the home base for horticultural apple research for NC, SC and GA. This new program is very active and is addressing multiple research areas such as crop load management, strategies for improving fruit quantity and quality, and techniques for optimizing fruit production and profitability in high density systems.