Research

Faculty at the Department of Horticulture maintain active programs in a wide array of horticultural and plant science research. Areas of focus include nursery production, pomology, viticulture, vegetable crops, plant breeding, strawberry genomics, genomics of secondary xylem formation, urban horticulture, woody plant establishment, plant growth regulators in floriculture, biofuels, and many others. For information on individual programs, consult the faculty listing.

Research Facilities

Kentland Farm (Whitethorne)

The Department of Horticulture field experiments are located in historic Kentland Farm, with 400 acres of field plots and over 600 acres of wildlife sanctuary, 20 min from campus. The Farm accommodates tree fruit orchards (primarily apple, peaches and pears), small fruit trials (primarily strawberry),vegetable research plots under traditional and heavy life mulch no-till permanent bed system, and an urban soil rehabilitation site. The organic horticulture research program has extensive plots maintained under organic production since 2002. Facilities include two general-purpose buildings located near orchards and site irrigation stations.

Dining Services Farm

The six–acre Dining Services Farm (DSF), managed collaboratively by the Department of Horticulture and Virginia Tech Dining Services, is an education farm–to–campus program located at Kentland Farm. The DSF produces a range of vegetable crops using organic practices, and often accommodates research projects within production fields.

Greenhouses

Virginia Tech greenhouse facilities consist of 36,000 sq ft glasshouse space with environmentally controlled compartments and approximately 16,000 sq ft fiberglass covered hoop houses, without environmental controls. The Department of Horticulture uses 9,700 sq ft glasshouse space and 11,000 sq ft fiberglass.

Urban Horticulture Center

The Urban Horticulture Center (UHC) was established as a horticulture research facility in 1989 and is approximately three miles from campus on a scenic edge of Blacksburg off of Price’s Fork Road. It is flanked by the VT Agronomy Farm (Crop, Soils & Environmental Science), and the Moore Farm (Animal Science). Originally a 5 acre research site, the UHC has recently expanded into a nearly 15 acre, fully-fenced facility offering overwintering poly houses, a pot-in-pot production system, gravel nursery pads, distributed irrigation, a walk-in storage cooler, wood processing facilities, an office/classroom/dry lab addition, and equipment storage. Current features include a native plant landscape, a demonstration rain garden, a networked research weather station, and a Beautiful Gardens Plant Evaluation Site.

Laboratory Facilities

Five research and teaching laboratories are located in Saunders Hall including seed physiology and biotechnology, plant nutrition, and urban horticulture. Several faculty laboratories are housed in Latham Hall including plant tissue culture and genetics and plant molecular biology. Graduate students and faculty also have access to two analytical laboratories (including GC-MS and an array of molecular biology analytical equipment) and bioinformatics facilities at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute and additional resources at the Fralin Biotechnology Center. Extensive growth chambers are available at both Latham Hall and VBI.

Off-campus Research Facilities

Off-campus Horticulture research facilities are located at the Agriculture Research and Extension Centers at Eastern Shore– vegetable research plots and a food quality laboratory, Hampton Roads– field and container research areas for nursery production, landscape management and urban tree care, a greenhouse designated to phytoremediation research, and two additional research laboratories, Southern Piedmont– grapes and small fruit (blueberry and brambles) research plots and access to the greenhouse and laboratory space, Winchester (Alson H. Smith)– tree fruit and grape orchards, modern pesticide residue handling facilities, greenhouse and analytical laboratories, including a newly established molecular biology lab. Virginia Beach AREC also maintains two arboreta (Tidewater Arboretum and Utility Arboretum), demonstration gardens (Bayscape Garden, All American Selections Trial Garden, Perennial Garden, Seashore Garden and Accessibility Garden) used for research, extension and outreach programs.

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