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Upper Mountain Research Station

Located in Ashe County, Upper Mountain Research Station has an elevation of 3,200 feet, making it the highest research station in the state. The 454-acre station is host to a variety of research programs centered around Christmas trees, livestock and agriculture. Crops including tobacco, corn, pumpkins and turfgrass are tested for their suitability for high elevations. The station also has a variety of greenhouses.

What We Do

Christmas Trees

Ashe County produces more Christmas trees than any other county in the U.S, and many of these trees are Fraser Firs. Researchers at the station conduct trials on Fraser Fir seedlings and transplants as well as field trials for Fraser Fir improvement. Other researchers conduct post-harvest studies to lengthen the amount of time a Christmas tree remains fresh.
In addition, the station has planted a seed orchard that will be the only source of “certified” Fraser Fir seed in the world. Construction of a new building to process seed is underway with the goal of having seed commercially available to growers by 2029.

Christmas Trees

Pumpkins and Turfgrass

Upper Mountain has been conducting research on orange pumpkins for several years. Researchers run a variety trial each year while other research has included fertility, spacing, timing, and disease monitoring. 
Researchers at Upper Mountain partner with other stations on the turfgrass breeding program to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the industry. Other crops new to higher elevations are studied at Upper Mountain, including tobacco, corn and small grains.

Livestock and Forage

The station hosts a beef cattle herd and a growing cow herd. Upper Mountain also develops heifers for the Dairy Unit at the Piedmont Research Station. The station supports research on forage management strategies for pasture-based livestock. Researchers at the station conduct grazing experiments with the cattle and cow herds to promote livestock health through targeted supplementation programs. This research led to the development of West Jefferson mineral, a supplement with selenium, which is very low in North Carolina mountain pastures.

Oh Christmas Tree

Rolling field planted with Christmas trees
The world’s most advanced Fraser fir tree seed orchard is at the Upper Mountain Research Station in Ashe County, the heart of North Carolina Christmas tree production.

NC State Extension, the College of Natural Resources and the state agriculture department work together to literally seed the future of North Carolina’s Christmas tree farms.

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

Upper Mountain Research Station
Tracy Taylor, Station Superintendent
8004 NC Highway, 88 E
Laurel Springs, NC  28644-8631
(336) 982-2501

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