The Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center, formerly known as the Virginia Truck Experiment Station (1907-1967), Virginia Truck and Ornamentals Research Station (1967-1987), and Hampton Roads Agricultural Experiment Station (1987-1992), has conducted research and extension programs that provided answers to the agricultural community of the eastern Virginia region.
Originally its focus was on vegetable production, but with the decline of the commercial vegetable industry, research activities were redirected beginning in 1967 towards the nursery and landscape production industries. The urbanization of the Hampton Roads area generated economic opportunities for the Tidewater agricultural community to shift their efforts to nursery production.
Research projects involve cultural production, pest management, plant selection and improvement, and environmental stewardship applicable to the commercial nursery and related service industries. Turfgrass, greenhouse crops, vegetable and annual flower evaluations, and alternative crops for niche markets are under study.
The emphasis on nursery crops is justified as the nursery industry in eastern Virginia is healthy and growing with the potential for becoming larger. It is one of the few areas of agriculture that has returned a profit to well-managed operations in recent years. Environmental horticulture (including floriculture) is the fastest growing segment in U.S. agriculture in grower cash receipts, averaging 9 % growth and ranked 6th among commodity groups in cash receipts in the U.S. To insure that the Virginia nursery industry remains competitive, it is essential that new research is conducted and that research-based information is made available to the industry. This remains the primary focus of Hampton Roads AREC activities.