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CREC Contributions to SC Vegetable Production

The Coastal Research and Education Center (CREC) in it's 85 year life span has developed many significant vegetable varieties that today remain standards in commercial production and in breeding programs. The CREC was instrumental in developing production practices and guidelines specific to this area that were nonexistent before.

Origination of new varieties was only part of the CREC's role. Cultural practices research contributed significant innovations to improve the efficiency of commercial production.  Guidelines for producing fresh market tomatoes using mulch, stakes, and pruning were developed at the CREC and are still in use today throughout the Southeast.  Postharvest programs solved problems associated with high decay rates in fresh market tomatoes through water quality management.  This approach has been successfully applied to other fruits and vegetables.  When foodborne illness (salmonellosis) was linked to South Carolina tomatoes, a Hazard Analysis Critical Points program was developed and implemented. This has served as a model for the fresh fruit and vegetable handlers throughout South Carolina.

A management system for the diamondback moth of cole crops has been developed and is currently being implemented in the state. A method has been worked out at CREC whereby the disease gummy stem blight pathogen can be detected on the cotyledons of cucurbits and in infected seed.  Resistance to the fungicide benomyl, thiophanate-methyl and azoxystrobin by the gummy stem blight fungus, Stagonosporopsis spp., was discovered by scientists at CREC.  In addition, methods have been developed for forcing asparagus to produce "off season". This allows farmers to capture the lucrative market during summer months.  A new method of growing rice called SRI (System of Rice Intensification) has been introduced at CREC.  Many of the disease and insect control, herbicide and fertilizer recommendations for vegetable production in South Carolina are developed by CREC scientist as well as various rotation schemes for alternating vegetable crops with agronomic crops.

For details on current research and recommendations click on the desired crop or program below:

Current Research Grants at CREC

  • Growing New Roots:  Grafting to Enhance Resiliency in U.S. Vegetable Industries. $6.8 million September 2016-August 2020 (Cucurbit Grafting) SCRI Grant; Hassell, Keinath, Ward
  • A Systems Approach to Improve Disease Management and Production of Watermelon in the Southeastern United States. USDA, NIFA, SCRI.University of Georgia (lead institution), University of Florida, and Clemson.  $1.7 million; Clemson portion $176,079. September 2014 – August 2018; Keinath
  • South Carolina Watermelon Disease Survey. USDA, AMS Specialty Crop Block Program. $10,726; Keinath
  • Developing an Eastern Broccoli Industry Through Cultivar Development, Economically and Environmentally Sustainable Production and Delivery $5.2 million SCRI Grant September 2016 - August 2020; Ward
  • Restoring The Sweet Potato Industry In South Carolina Through Research And Extension. $40,000 September 2016 - August 2018 USDA SCDA Specialty Crop Block Grant; Ward