Submitted to: Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 15, 2005
Publication Date: April 15, 2005
Citation: Rinehart, T.A. 2005. USDA Ornamental Research in Poplarville, Mississippi. Trade Journal Publication. p. 7. Technical Abstract: The USDA research station in Poplarville, MS started off working with the Tung Oil industry to improve Tung Trees. On the night of August 17, 1969 Hurricane Camille hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Unfortunately, nearly all of the Tung oil trees were destroyed and Tung industry was decimated. USDA Research in Poplarville was forced to change directions. In 1970 Dr. Don Scott and Dr. Arlen Draper visited the Poplarville location and together with Dr. Jim Spiers assessed the potential for new crops to overcome the economic loss. Blueberries were one of the crops USDA-ARS believed to have economic potential for the southern states. Since the first publication in 1974, this station has published 1,000 + articles on blueberries and other small fruits. Cultural practices, fertilization recommendations, pest control management systems for the Gulf Coast area have been developed. Seven blueberry cultivars adapted specifically for the Gulf States Region have been developed at this station. In FY 2000, the program at the Small Fruit Research Station was expanded to include research on ornamentals and vegetables. Since that time six new research scientists have been hired at Poplarville for ornamental research. This new mission encompasses both woody and herbaceous plants and brings together pathology, entomology, horticulture, genetics, and molecular genetics to produce innovative solutions to grower problems. This article describes the background and focus of this new research program. Using the outstanding success of the small fruits research as a model, the Ornamental Group hopes to build strong, productive relationships with the diverse ornamental plant industry.