CREC Contributions to SC Vegetable Production

rows of broccoli in a field

Since 1932 the Coastal Research and Education Center (CREC) 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 choose one of the areas 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

  • Choosing the Right Fungicides to Prevent Spread of Gummy Stem Blight in Watermelon Fields. USDA, AMS Specialty Crop Block Program through South Carolina Dept. of Agriculture. $23,158, September 2017 - September 2020; Keinath
  • Regional Approach to Cucurbit Downy Mildew Prevention, Monitoring and Management. USDA, AMS Specialty Crop Multi-State Program. $31,087, January 2018 – December 2020; 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

  • South Carolina Cantaloupe Disease Survey. USDA, AMS Specialty Crop Block Program through South Carolina Dept. of Agriculture. $28,790, September 2018 - September 2021; Keinath

  • 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