Skip to main content

Central Crops Research Station

Cathy Herring, former Research Operations Manager for Central Crops Research Station, highlights the unique qualities of the “plant breeding station.”
Keith Starke is the current superintendent of the Central Crops Research Station.

Plant breeding and genetics, weed control, alternative pesticide research, swine studies . . . these are just a sampling of the important research conducted at the Central Crops Research Station. Each year the 523-acre site hosts a wide range of field tests conducted by dozens of researchers from NC State and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Active since 1953, the station’s facilities — which include a teaching orchard, greenhouses, nurseries, fields with advanced irrigation systems and a vegetable pathology building — have been instrumental in the discovery of new varieties of crops, improving the commercial swine industry, and North Carolina becoming the first state to release the Nematode Advisory Program.

What We Do

Plant Breeding

The station hosts hand-pollinated breeding nurseries for important field crops like corn, cotton, soybeans, tobacco and sweet potatoes. It has isolation fields to prevent unintended pollination for corn breeding, and researchers conduct trials to evaluate breeding nurseries for corn, soybeans and cotton.

Researchers at the station develop brand-new strawberry varieties, a guide that helps farmers diagnose and manage strawberry disease problems, and longer-term projects to enhance the state’s strawberry nursery industry and to increase scientists’ understanding of how strawberry flowers respond to frosts and freezes.

A group of students in a corn field as the sun sets. (From Summer 2019)

Soil Pathogen Research

Soil-borne pathogens — such as fungi, bacteria and nematodes that are transmitted among plants via the soil — and ways to remediate them for vegetables, melons and sweet potatoes are main research efforts at the station.

For example, the station is home to cutting-edge research on the sting nematode, a microscopic roundworm found in sandy soils in the floodplains of the southeast and midwestern U.S. The worm damages the roots of field crops such as soybeans, corn and peanuts and injects them with a toxic chemical that can cause stunting, yellowing and wilting.

A Northern root-knot nematode under the microscope.

Weed Science Research

The station hosts many researchers and their projects to develop weed management systems for strawberries, corn, cotton, soybeans, small grains such as wheat, barley, oats and rye, and grain sorghum. Among the projects are studies that delve into herbicide efficacy and carryover from one year’s application to the next year’s crop, weed/crop competition, weed biology, field residue and how agricultural management affects weed behavior.

wide shot of nc central crops research station

A Berry Good Deed

Man near a farm structure holds strawberries filling a large plastic container
Jonathan Lee, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s director of agricultural programs, receives strawberries from Mark Hoffmann’s research plots at the Central Crops Research Station.

This year’s strawberry harvest at the Central Crops Research Station is not only generating knowledge that growers can use to enhance their farms and the environment, it’s also benefitting those in need of nutritious produce.

On-Site Weather

For more than 75 years, the Research Stations Division has worked with the National Weather Service (NWS) to provide accurate, statewide weather data. When you hear and see local and national weather reports, you can be sure meteorologists and climatologists are using information gathered from our stations.

Contact Us

Central Crops Research Station
Keith Starke, Station Superintendent
13223 US Business 70 West
Clayton, NC 27520-2128
(919) 553-2141

Central Crops Research Station was established in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) Research Stations Division.