rendering of the new Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory dedicated
today in Poplarville, Mississippi. Click the image for more information
USDA Opens New Horticultural Lab
By Erin Peabody
May 30, 2006
POPLARVILLE, Miss., May 30--The U.S. Department of Agriculture today opened the
Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory in Poplarville, where research
will be conducted on small fruits and ornamental plants.
The new research laboratory is to be operated by the Agricultural
Research Service (ARS), USDA's chief
scientific research agency. The facility will provide laboratory space and
greenhouses for 11 ARS scientists and six Mississippi State University researchers,
along with a meeting place for farmers, Extension agents and others who will
benefit from the researchers' work.
Biloxi blueberries, product of
ARS research at Poplarville. Click the image for more information about
"The Poplarville laboratory's research on improving ornamental plants
and small fruits should go a long way towards helping the Gulf Coast states'
growing horticultural industry, providing unique opportunities for small-farm
enterprises," said Under Secretary
for Research, Education and Economics Gale Buchanan. "Scientists have
already released several new varieties of small fruits, such as blueberries,
which allow local producers to take part in the lucrative berry market."
Also attending today's ceremony was Sen. Thad Cochran, who delivered
the keynote address. Other participants included USDA/ARS Administrator
B. Knipling; Congressman Gene Taylor; and Vance Watson, vice president of
the Division of Agriculture, Forestry
and Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi
In addition to small fruit research, Poplarville scientists are
working to identify ornamental plants that are not only aesthetically
appealing, but also disease- and insect-resistant.
With its roots in small fruit development, the Poplarville laboratory
has already released nine blueberry cultivars that are helping to expand
blueberry production across the region. These include the cultivars Biloxi,
Jubilee, Magnolia and Desoto.
Under the direction of research leader
Spiers, the ARS scientists at Poplarville also are working on developing
new and improved strawberries, blackberries and muscadine grapes, all of which
will be bred specifically for the Gulf Coast region.