Established in 1970, the Horticultural Crops Research Station at Clinton encompasses 349 acres located on Highway 403. The average rainfall for the station is 47.63 inches with the largest amounts of rainfall occurring between June and August, the heart of the growing season. The soils, consisting of a sandy texture, relatively low organic matter, and acid in reaction, are typical of those in the upland areas of the Coastal Plain.
The station carries out a broad and varied research program to support the North Carolina vegetable industry. Its goals are to help growers solve short and long-term production problems, identify and evaluate alternative production enterprises, and maintain sustainability. Research is conducted on various crops including cucumbers, sweetpotatoes, tomatoes, pepper, squash, strawberries, watermelons, asparagus, onions, and cole crops. Other research in corn, soybeans, and oil seed crops also takes place at the station.
The station facilities include an office, three dwellings, a multipurpose building, a shop, storage shelters, a fertilizer and pesticide storage buildings, greenhouse, an irrigation well and farm pond. A building for bulk handling and curing of sweet potatoes was completed in 1987. The station has the capability to provide irrigation to the entire operation through three lateral move systems and underground lines and hydrants for drip and overhead irrigation. Grant funding through N.C. State University has provided support to upgrade the sweet potato curing facilities. In 2006, the station began construction of two high tunnel greenhouses, which will be used to grow sweet potato transplants and other crops. The station is currently constructing a shelter to serve as a head house for the new greenhouses.
The Horticultural Crops Research Station hosts a vareity of events open to the community. The Sweet Potato Field Day is held on the station every other year, alternating with the Cunningham Research Station in Kinston. Small field tours and group meetings on disease management in vegetable production are held by project leaders to provide a hands-on experience.
The public is always welcome to visit and tours are available to groups making arrangements in advance.