After the demise of the Sea Island cotton industry, vegetable "truck" farming was viewed as an alternative agricultural enterprise for Low Country farms. In 1932, the Agricultural Society of South Carolina purchased a tract of land five miles south of Charleston on U.S. 17 and shortly afterwards, the land was deeded to the state for use by Clemson College. A small building was built that included laboratories for pathology, horticulture, and entomology. Research began immediately on solving problems affecting the production of beans, corn, melons, and cabbage.
The first multiple disease resistant vegetable varieties were developed at the CREC. Numerous slicing cucumber varieties, such as 'Ashley' and 'Polaris', and pickling cucumbers such as 'Chipper', 'Galaxy', and 'Sumter', were developed with multiple disease resistance. At one point, 80% and 50% of the world and U.S. slicer cucumber production, respectively, were varieties that originated from CREC breeding programs. 'Marion' tomato is one of the last open pollinated varieties to be developed with multiple disease resistance and displaying heat tolerance. Other contributions included 'Marketmore' cucumber, 'Blondie' and 'Burgundy' okra, 'Parris Island' lettuce, 'Cherokee' wax beans, 'Ranger' squash and several downy mildew-resistant cabbage breeding lines, such as 'Carolina Seven'.
Dissemination of information and introduction of new varieties have contributed greatly to the expansion of the industry and to the income of growers. The South Carolina Truck Experiment Station was renamed the Coastal Research and Education Center in the mid-1980's. In 2003, the Center moved its offices and laboratories to share facilities with the U.S. Department of Agriculture U.S. Vegetable Laboratory.
Today, CREC's responsibilities include research to increase production and handling technology for the vegetable industry and dissemination of information through extension activities. In cooperation with the Clemson University Extension Service, local problem solving and grower educational programs receive major emphasis.To learn more about Coastal REC, please visit their website.