CREC Contributions to SC Vegetable Production
The CREC in its 75-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 illnesses (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, D. bryoniae, 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. Many of the disease and insect control, herbicide, and fertilizer recommendations for vegetable production in South Carolina are developed by CREC scientists as well as various rotation schemes for alternating vegetable crops with agronomic crops.