My friend, John Dole, Professor and Interim Head, Department of Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University, shared these stats with me. I knew, but really had no idea.
Horticulture Industries and NC State University Horticultural Science Department:
A Partnership That Works!
North Carolina’s diverse horticulture industry impacts every county in the state. As the state’s agricultural industry evolves to meet changing economic conditions, scores of farmers enter horticultural crop production, creating on-farm and off-farm jobs in many rural areas. Most horticultural businesses are small, family owned companies – the sector which will help lead NC out of the recession. The NCSU Horticultural Science Department is working for NC and for NC’s horticultural industries.
How important is horticulture to North Carolina:
NC’s Green Industries contributed $8.6 billion dollars and 151,982 jobs to the state in 2005, with $912 million in sales at the farm alone in 2009.
NC’s horticultural vegetable, fruits and nut crops had $511 million in sales at the farm alone in 2009 (economic impact values not available).
Greenhouse and nursery crops rank third in NC agricultural statistics, after broilers and hogs for the top agricultural industries (2009).
NC produces 47% of the nation’s sweet potatoes (Ranked #1 in U.S.).
NC produces 24% of the nation’s Christmas trees (Ranked #2 in U.S.).
NC is the third largest producer of processing cucumbers.
NC is the fourth largest producer of greenhouse crops, nursery crops, and fresh market cucumbers.
NC has the largest single greenhouse in the U.S. and one of the most modern greenhouse production facilities worldwide, located north of Charlotte in Huntersville.
NC is in the top ten states for production of blueberries, cabbage, tomatoes, snap beans, apples, bell peppers, squash, watermelons, and grapes.
The NC peach industry generates more than $11-15 annually selling high-quality peaches directly to consumers.
The organic industry is the fastest growing segment of agriculture, with NC certified or exempt farms accounting for 9,600 acres and $53 million in sales in 2008
An astonishing array of specialty horticulture and natural products are being grown in NC, ranging from heirloom tomatoes to herbs to fresh cut flowers. These small but fast growing industries are hard to track, but gross returns can reach up to $40,000/acre. One example is the hops industry, which has increased from 1 grower in 2007 to 20 growers today, producing hops for 48 registered breweries and home brewers.
How NC State University has benefited horticultural industries:
MCP (SmartFresh), an anti-ethylene agent, that was developed at NCSU has revolutionized the apple industry, both in NC and worldwide, and was adapted for industry use by Horticultural researchers. It is considered the most significant development in postharvest research – for all crops and for basic science – in the last 30 years. The technology is also used in other horticultural postharvest applications such as cut flowers.
NCSU varieties of sweet potatoes are planted on approximately 80% of the acres in NC.
Covington alone provided $150 million in gross revenue to the sweet potato industry in 2010.
Plants released by the JC Raulston Arboretum at NCSU have contributed $10.5 million/year to the ornamental nursery industry.
NCSU varieties of blueberries are planted on approximately 68% of the blueberry acres in NC.
NCSU varieties of blueberries provided approximately $33 million in gross revenue to North Carolina farmers in 2010.
NCSU blueberry variety O’Neal was the most widely planted variety in warm blueberry production areas worldwide in 2005.
The percent of NC tomato acreage planted to NCSU varieties in 2010: Approximately 60%.
The gross revenue of NCSU’s tomato varieties in 2010: $17 million.
NCSU breeding is reviving the raspberry industry in western NC with the new variety, Nantahala, released in 2007.
NCSU peach breeders and researchers have developed profitable peach varieties and management strategies.
New NCSU varieties of ornamentals such as butterfly bush, redbud, hydrangea, flowering quince, summersweet, hypericum, pearlbush, and sweetshrub support NC’s $777 million dollar (farm gate) nursery crop industry.
How NC State University Horticultural Science Department is responding to the challenges:
NCSU’s Horticultural Science Department was ranked among the top three departments in the country in 2010 by an independent review team.
Horticulture Researchers have generated an average of $5 million / year in outside funding to support their programs. One researcher alone has raised $5.2 million over the last ten years in National Science Foundation funding and $483 thousand in USDA/AFRI funding.
The Department has developed a distance education curriculum, two certificate programs and one new distance education Master program to meet the horticulture education needs of NC citizens, many of whom are taking courses from their homes and offices.
Over the last 20 years, the department has graduated over 1900 undergraduate students, 900 in our 4-year Bachelor of Science program and 1000 in our 2-year Associate Degree program. In the past five years alone, 200 received their Bachelors degree, and 110 received their
Associate’s degree. In the last 10 year, the Graduate Program has completed 125 MS and PhD students. Many of the leaders in our horticultural industry are NC State Horticulture graduates.
The Master Gardener program has trained thousands of volunteers across the state to provide information to the public. In 2007 (most recent year for data), there were 4,084 Master Gardeners, 774 trained just that year. They answered 69,563 phone calls, examined 18,182 plant samples and coordinated 250 demonstration gardens, 97 school gardens and 494 school programs. Estimated value of services and funds raised to North Carolina: $4.4 million.
NCSU has created the Plants for Human Health Institute in Kannapolis to bring together Horticulture Scientists with researchers from a broad range of other fields to develop mainstream fruit and vegetable produce with enhanced health benefits and introduce new and underappreciated crops and products.
Faculty at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center provide high quality research and extension programs for the people of western North Carolina.
In 2010, the NC Pesticide Safety Education Program provided state-wide educational programs on proper pesticide handling that were attended by 4,812 agricultural producers. These programs meet federal and state requirements for recertification of nearly 40% of our state’s farmers.