The Upper Coastal Plain Research Station is the oldest of the state’s 18 research stations, established on a trial basis in 1902 on 201 acres of rented land eight miles southeast of Rocky Mount, on the Old Tarboro Road (now Noble’s Mill Pond Road). The option on the land was exercised in 1903 when the station officially became a state research facility. An adjacent tract of 240 acres was purchased in 1937, for a total of 441 acres. In 1990, the Fountain Farm on Highway 97, just east of Rocky Mount about 10 miles north of the station, was turned over to the station. More than 200 acres of cultivated land are used for research.
The station hosts an ECONET tower weather reporting station that feeds onsite data to the State Climate Office of North Carolina headquartered at the Raleigh campus of NC State University and to the National Weather Service offices in the region.
There are 28 structures on the station that provide for each area of research being conducted. Station facilities used to support crop research include crop drying and storage facilities, six tobacco curing barns, tobacco packhouse, fertilizer and pesticide storage buildings, maintenance shop, several storage sheds and buildings, carpenter’s shop, two dwellings, and an office.
For the last 100 years, research at the Upper Coastal Plain Research Station has continued to produce many advances in agricultural production technology for the growers in this region of the state, which has benefited all of our citizens throughout the state. The current research program at the UCPRS is centered around agronomic crops: corn, cotton, peanuts, soybeans and tobacco. These crops are of great economic importance to eastern North Carolina. Average cash receipts for North Carolina farmers in 2006 from these five agronomic crops totaled $1.31 billion, about 45 percent of all crop cash receipts. This station, with soils, climate and pest pressures representative of this region of the state, is ideally suited for experimental work with the agronomic crops. Tobacco and peanut soil-borne diseases are very prevalent here.
Long time tobacco black shank nurseries as well as CBR and microplot peanut disease nurseries provide excellent evaluation tools for development of resistance cultivars. Our tobacco black shank nursery is perhaps the best in the world, and without the continued breeding and screening research done here for
the development of black shank-resistant fluecured and burley tobacco varieties, the tobacco industry could be devastated. The location is close enough to NCSU for project leaders to closely monitor their research projects, apply treatments and collect data within a workday.
The UCPRS hosts many events tours each year depicting the latest research, including the Tobacco Variety Tour, Tobacco Tour, Weed Management Tour, Soil Classification Classes, Extension Agent Training, Insect Practicum (every 2 years). The station hosts the Cotton Field Day every 2 years.