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Horticultural Crops Research Station, Clinton

Considered the “home base” for NC State’s sweet potato breeding program, the Horticultural Crops Research Station at Clinton has 349 acres devoted to researching crops in the sandy soils typical to the upland areas of the Coastal Plain. The station hosts varied research programs in breeding, cultural evaluation, pesticides and sustainability to support the North Carolina vegetable industry.

What We Do

Plant Breeding

Equipped to accommodate all areas of sweet potato production and research, facilities include greenhouses, storage and curing room, and an Exeter Laser Optical Sorter/Grader to aid in selections of sweet potato crosses and traits. Researchers also work on breeding disease and insect resistance into other crops such as watermelons, cucumbers, squash, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard, carrots, lima beans, okra and stevia.

Student holding sweet potatoes.

Cultural Evaluation

With increasing concerns about the environment, scientists study better ways to utilize and track nutrients applied to crops. Researchers develop and optimize cultural practices for commercial production of vegetables including stand establishment, plasticulture, developing new alternative crops, drip irrigation, nutrition, and seed physiology. In addition, the station hosts studies for weed management in small fruits and vegetables.

squash plant at Horticultural Crops Research Station, Clinton

Pesticide Evaluation

The station is the site for the IR-4 program which conducts field residue trials on specialty crops to support pesticide registrations for fruits, vegetables, and other minor crops. Scientists also conduct herbicide efficacy and crop tolerance trials to identify potential products for registration in minor crops.

Researchers also help to test and develop environmentally safe disease and pest management practices. Biological materials such as beneficial insects and genetic engineering to control disease and insects reduce the number of chemical inputs into the environment. Researchers test these methods to determine if they can be integrated effectively into vegetable production.

pesticide evaluation techniques at Horticultural Crops Research Station, Clinton

Big Data for Better Sweetpotatoes

Craig Yencho giving a demonstration of a sweetpotato sorter.
Craig Yencho points out the features of a sweetpotato sorter at Horticultural Crops Research Station in Clinton.

An interdisciplinary team led by Cranos Williams is setting out on a three-year project to use artificial intelligence to make sweetpotatoes even more profitable. The team will image hundreds of thousands of sweetpotatoes to increase the percentage of sweetpotatoes grown that are USDA grade 1.

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.

Clinton Weather Station 
Exterior of the Horticultural Crops, Clinton Research Station

Contact Us

Horticultural Crops Research Station, Clinton
Hunter Barrier, Station Superintendent
2450 Faison Highway
Clinton, NC 28328-9501
(910) 592-7839 

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