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Horticultural Crops Research Station, Castle Hayne

Home to horticultural research on plant diseases and genetics, the Horticultural Crops Research Station at Castle Hayne aspires to give growers in the Coastal Plain region of North Carolina the tools they need to improve the quality and increase the yield of the crops they produced. Located on 111 acres just a few miles north of Wilmington, the station boasts recently remodeled greenhouses with state-of-the-art environmental control systems, a modern blueberry packing line and an expanded irrigation system that protects tender crops from late frosts and tackles droughts.

What We Do

Small Fruits

NC State researchers based at the station breed blueberries, strawberries and muscadine grapes. This work includes testing cultivars — plant varieties created by humans through selective breeding techniques such as clones, grafts and hybrids — and evaluating their characteristics to create new varieties with ideal characteristics including color, taste and texture. Scientists also run field tests for the best way to control disease, insects and weeds when growing these types of fruit.

Strawberries of different ripeness on black plastic in a farm field


Ornamental crops, which include flowering plants, trees and grasses used in landscaping and other nursery products, was the fastest growing agricultural sector in North Carolina over the last decade. Agricultural scientists at the station test weed and pest management solutions and help to develop best practices for crop safety and growing. In addition, researchers at the station evaluate American beach grass and sea oats from across the United States for use in beach stabilization efforts along the North Carolina coast.

Iris ‘Nada'

Pollinator Habitat

This station, along with all of the North Carolina research stations, plays host to a small plot of wildflowers including annuals, perennials, natives and non-natives alike. NC State researchers use these plots to study the pollinators, such as butterflies and native bees, who are critical for producing fruits and vegetables. One study focuses on how these NCDA&CS mandated plots support the populations of North Carolina’s many native bee species; another is looking at if the pollinator plots increase the yield of nearby soybean fields.

field of pollinating flowers

Berrying On

blueberries in the field

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on almost everything. Extension Blueberry Specialist Bill Cline’s work at the Horticultural Crops Research Station in Castle Hayne was no exception, but he adapted to the new challenges.

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.

Horticultural Crops Weather Station 

Contact Us

Exterior of Horticultural Crops Research Station
Exterior of Horticultural Crops Research Station

Horticultural Crops Research Station
John Garner, Research Operations Manager
3800 Castle Hayne Road
Castle Hayne, NC 28429-6519
(910) 381-0292

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