North Carolina Specialty Crops Program
MEDICINAL HERBS FOR COMMERCE PROJECT (visit project website)
The Medicinal Herbs for Commerce project teaches farmers how to effectively produce, harvest, package, and market medicinal herbs. Project staff recruit buyers, identify the herbs to be grown, obtain the seeds, and guide the growers throughout the production and marketing process. Growers learn how to communicate with buyers and secure markets for their crops. This project is part of the North Carolina Specialty Crops Program, a cooperative program between the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State University and the Marketing Division of the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The 2005 project is funded with grants from the NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, the Golden Leaf Foundation, the NC Rural Economic Development Center through the Land of Sky Regional Council, and the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Plant Industry Division.
Future of the Project
The Principal Investigator for this project is Dr. Jeanine Davis, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at North Carolina State University, and Coordinator of the NC Specialty Crops Program. Contact project coordinator Amy Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org (828) 684-3562 ext.257 or visit project website for details.
are a highly prized, edible fungus that grows in association with
the roots of several species of trees. In North Carolina, filberts
are often used as the host tree. Roots of filbert seedlings are
inoculated with the fungus and the young trees are planted in an
orchard. Truffles need a temperate environment where freezing temperatures
occur but not where the ground freezes solid. The soil must have
a pH of 7.9 to 8.1 for truffle fruiting to occur. Because soils
in North Carolina are naturally acidic, they must be heavily limed
to slowly raise the pH. A good site for a truffle orchard should
also be well drained and be irrigated. Once the trees are planted,
the orchards are maintained with light cultivation several times
per year. An organic mulch is helpful to keep down weeds, retain
soil moisture, and moderate soil temperatures. The first truffles
should appear the fourth to sixth year after planting. They are
usually about six inches deep in the soil and dogs can be trained
to find them during the winter and early spring.
At this time we do not know if truffles can be a profitable crop in North Carolina. That is the reason for the truffle grant project--to determine if sufficient yields can be obtained to be profitable. We do know, however, that truffles can be grown on a hobby scale in many parts of the state.
sources of truffle inoculated seedlings and additional information:
Gourmet Mushrooms and Truffles
on the Garlands, their truffles, and one of their clients can be
Truffle forming fungi detection service from Mycorrhiza Biotech
Coveted, French, and Now in Tennessee
Funding for this project provided by: NC Tobacco Trust Fund Commission
Mountain Research Station, Waynesville, NC
Introduction: There is a strong market for heirloom tomatoes. Consumers say they taste better and have thinner skins than "regular tomatoes". There is a nostalgic attraction for the "ole timey' varieties that Grandma used to grow. Heirloom varieties also come in many interesting colors and shapes and have fun names that just make them different from the standard tomato. The market for ORGANIC heirloom tomatoes is particularly strong.
This should be an excellent opportunity for local growers, except that heirloom tomatoes have several production problems. Most heirloom tomatoes have little or no disease resistance. This makes organic production, in particular, very difficult. In a wet season, like we are having this year, heirloom varieties fall victim to blight before they get the chance to yield much fruit. Heirloom varieties have a tendency to crack and are very rough in appearance, which makes them difficult to pack and sell commercially. Tomato breeder, Dr. Randy Gardner, has developed several new disease resistant experimental hybrids with heirloom qualities. Hopefully, these new hybrids will have the flavor of heirlooms but with the desired qualities of standard commercial tomatoes, e.g., disease resistance, uniform size, and good shipping characteristics.
Objectives: To determine if the new heirloom-type hybrids 1) have consumer acceptance as having the flavor of heirloom tomatoes and 2) can be successfully grown in organic and conventional production systems.
Experiment: Seven varieties of tomatoes are being grown in two plots. In one plot the tomatoes are being grown using conventional practices as recommended by the NC Cooperative Extensive Service, including synthetic fertilizers, fungicides, and insecticides. In the other plot, tomatoes are being grown using organic practices as approved by the National Organic Program, including organic soil amendments and organic disease control. In both plots, the tomatoes are grown on raised beds with black plastic and drip-irrigation and high trellises. The varieties grown are German Johnson, Mr. Stripey, Cherokee Purple, NC 0455, NC 0571, NC 0576, and NC 05114. Transplants were set on June 2, 10 plants per plot, and pruned to a single stem.
Taste Test Results (56 people):
This study is a project of the N.C. Specialty Crops Program, a cooperative venture between the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at NC State University and the Marketing Division at the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. This project is funded in part by a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation. We wish to thank the staff at the Mountain Research Station for all their support without which, this would not be possible. Technical support has been provided by Candice Anderson, Beth Dixon, David Grimsley, Vicky Heatherly, Agatha Kaplan, Chris Leek, and Erica Piela. Marketing assistance is provided by Stephanie Wise, NCDA&CS.
for this project provided by: Golden Leaf Foundation