The mission of the Eastern Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center is to serve Virginia's grain and soybean industries through research and educational programs leading to improved varieties and crop management practices. Our research objectives are to support the Virginia Tech soybean and small grain breeding programs and other research programs that contribute to economically and environmentally sound crop production in Virginia and the nation.
Our vision is to have a center that:
- Works for the advancement of the crop production industry across Virginia.
- Has sufficient resources, personnel, equipment and facilities to maintain an excellent research program.
- Continues to serve as an information resource for the people of Virginia, the nation and the world.
History of the AREC
The Eastern Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center was established at Williamsburg, Virginia in 1912 with an emphasis on forage crops. After it was moved to Warsaw in 1950, its focus gradually shifted to breeding, variety testing, and cultural practices for corn, small grains and soybeans. Today the Eastern Virginia Agricultural Research and Extension Center is home base for the soybean breeding project and the center for small grain field research.
Center headquarters are on a 54-acre tract about two miles west of Warsaw. In addition, approximately 160 additional acres are leased from nearby landowners and used for increase blocks, variety evaluations, and off-station projects. Currently there are six full-time staff members on board.
When Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences opened the station in Richmond County, there was little there except Superintendent Houston M. Camper, Jr. With the help of one worker, Camper cut roadways and established a series of test plots. In response to the needs of farmers in the area, the station's research emphasis began changing in the mid-1950s away from forage crops toward breeding new varieties and genetic programs for corn, small grains and soybeans.
The emphasis of small grain and soybean breeding programs today is to provide producers with cultivars that are adapted to Virginia conditions and produce maximum yields with minimum inputs. In a typical year more than 15,000 barley test plots, 27,000 wheat test plots and 16,000 soybean test plots are grown by the staff at the center. Tests include both conventional and no-till plantings.
Some of the more recent soybean efforts include breeding high-yielding soybeans for the mid-Atlantic region, including double-crop planting systems, incorporation of new herbicide tolerance traits using DNA markers (STS and RR2Y), and improving nutritional quality and palatability of soybeans for feed and food markets through lowered stachyose content, using a unique source of the trait.
The small grains program is working to develop broadly adapted, high-yielding, disease-resistant soft wheat varieties and specialty wheat varieties providing economic advantage to producers, seedsmen, millers, bakers, and consumers. Another thrust of the program is to develop specialty barley varieties providing for new market opportunities.