Mountain Research Station
265 Test Farm Road
Serving the agricultural research needs of Western North Carolina
The Mountain Research Station was established at Swannanoa in Buncombe County in 1908 and moved to the present 398-acre location in Haywood County in 1944 when the U.S. Army selected the Swannanoa site for a general hospital. An additional 13.3 acres at Lake Junaluska were purchased in 1996. This satellite acreage is primarily dedicated to row crops and horticultural crops. At both locations the various soil types and elevations, which range from 2,600 to 3,200 feet, are representative of the region. Although the average yearly temperature is 55 degrees Fahrenheit, this location offers extremes that range from -22 degrees Fahrenheit to 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Average annual rainfall is 48.77 inches and the growing season is approximately 160 days.
The research program at the Mountain Research Station reflects the diversity of agriculture in Western North Carolina. The station program strives to provide information addressing the diverse needs of mountain farmers and needs identified in other areas of the state, as well as expand the economy by researching new enterprises. Research activities include work with field and forage crops, horticultural crops, Christmas trees, burley tobacco, and livestock.
There are adequate facilities on the station to address the needs of each research area. For tobacco research, there are three curing barns and an environmentally controlled room for tobacco grading. Horticultural crop research facilities include a 30’ x 96’ greenhouse. The beef cattle program maintains a barn with 8,000 square feet of paved lot and a trench silo holding 500 tons. Small ruminant animal facilities include 43 acres of pasture, forage variety grazing plots and a barn with feeding and gravel paddocks. Two office buildings provide facilities for an area livestock specialist, a regional agronomist and the research station staff.
The station supports the community by hosting a variety of events including field days, station tours and educational workshops for various area groups. Camp New Life, which is part of the property managed by the research station, provides a meeting space for community and family events and hosts day camps every summer for area children. The station also provides community support by selling surplus hay, vegetables and various other surplus commodities. Surplus vegetables are gleaned and donated to area non-profit organizations such as soup kitchens and shelters. Area disaster relief efforts are support by providing manpower, equipment, storage space and other services as needed.
Visitors are welcome at any time. However, the peak growing months of April through October are usually more informative. Field days are arranged according to producer needs and new research developments.