The Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center is located in the coastal plains region of southeast Virginia in Suffolk. The center’s resources include 412 acres of agricultural land and associated buildings, equipment and laboratories.
Applied research and Extension education programming at the Tidewater AREC is focused on economically important field crops including cotton, soybean, peanut, corn, small grains, sorghum, cover crops, and alternative crops, and on commercial swine production. Within program areas, emphasis is directed toward sustainable production that considers profitability for producers and processors along with quality of food and fiber products, and soil, water and air protection. This mission is carried out by seven resident faculty members supported by 25 state and grant funded technicians. Seasonal part-time workers, graduate students and student interns funded primarily through research grants also support programs at the Tidewater AREC.
Plant pathology, entomology, soybean agronomy, cotton and cropping systems, peanut variety and quality evaluation (PVQE), and swine physiology are our signature programs directed at real-world agricultural research. For example, through collaboration with NC State, Clemson, and the University of Florida, the multi-state PVQE program has evaluated and participated to the release of 25 Virginia-type peanut cultivars over 40 years and currently is geared towards improved oil chemistry for longer peanut shelf life and consumer satisfaction. In addition, the pathology program evaluates these cultivars for resistance to economically important diseases in Virginia. The Tidewater AREC plant pathology group also issues crop disease and frost advisories throughout the growing season; does extensive work in developing safe, effective approaches to controlling seedling and foliar diseases in cotton, corn, wheat, soybeans, and sorghum; and provides essential plant disease diagnostic service to growers, Extension agents, and crop consultants throughout the region and state. An ongoing monitoring program is currently in place for early detection of soybean rust, a new crop disease working its way into Virginia.
The entomology team at the Tidewater AREC uses an IPM (integrated pest management) approach in developing systems to manage current and emerging insect pests of field crops. Research programs determine economic treatment thresholds, new and safer insecticide treatments, and cultural practices to control such pests as thrips and stink bugs in cotton and soybean, southern corn rootworm in peanut, and Lepidoptera caterpillar species in cotton, corn and soybean.
Scientists and technical staff at the Tidewater AREC have extensive programs in crop variety evaluation and development. There are official variety assessment programs for cotton, soybean and sorghum and cooperative programs with campus faculty for assessment of corn, wheat and barley. Data collected in these programs are used extensively by growers, Extension Agents, seed companies, and crop advisors to select crop varieties with the greatest potential for profitable yield, grade and quality. Other work focuses on tillage and crop rotation systems to conserve soil moisture, prevent erosion and reduce weed competition to the crop. A new line of research is focusing on developing drought and cold tolerance traits in peanuts and other important field crops.