North Alabama Horticulture Research Center

The name of the North Alabama Horticultural Research Center east of Cullman is a dead giveaway as to what the 159-acre center is all about. Its sole role is to conduct scientific studies and generate research data that benefits large- and small-scale commercial fruit and vegetable producers in the state’s northern counties.

The NAHRC is one of only two Alabama Ag Experiment Station outlying units with certified organic research plots and uses those plots almost exclusively for studies on organic production of the area’s top three vegetable crops—fresh-market tomatoes, peppers and sweet potatoes.

Current Research Updates

  • Grain sorghum and sunflowers are being grown as trap crops around tomatoes to attract leaf-footed bugs and stink bugs that feed on tomato fruit. Trap crops are scouted, and when insects reach a certain threshold, an insecticide is applied to the trap crop. This reduces the amount of insecticides that have to be applied to the tomato crop.
  • Two border rows of blue Hubbard winter squash are being grown as a trap crop around yellow crookneck squash to attract cucumber beetles and squash vine borers. These insects prefer the Hubbard squash over the yellow squash. Blue Hubbard squash is scouted, and an insecticide is applied to control insects. This reduces the number of insecticide applications needed for yellow crookneck squash.
  • Iron-clay peas, soybeans, sun hemp, velvet beans, foxtail millet and Sudan grass are being evaluated for use as summer cover crops in the production of no-till collards. All of these summer cover crops provide sufficient growth to optimize biomass production.