Research Stations - Upper Mountain Research Station
UMRS is the highest elevation in the state and its research program reflects the diversity of agriculture in the mountains of Northwestern North Carolina. The main focus of research has been on cold tolerance and forage management. Due to UMRS location, continuing research is performed on Christmas trees, burley tobacco, small grains, pumpkins, warm season turf grass, and corn.
Northwestern North Carolina is the major producer of the Fraser Fir Christmas tree, with Ashe County being the leader in production. Since 1989, research has been centered on fertilization, ground covers, bud abortion, needle retention, shearing practices, vegetative management, integrated pest management, post-harvest quality, clonal archive and genetic tolerance to insect pests. Also, a transplant production program is underway in a recently renovated greenhouse in an effort to produce a high quality, disease-free transplant in a shorter time than in traditional outdoor settings. Upper Mountain has also established a Fraser Fir seed orchard using genetically advanced material from the breeding program at NCSU.
Burley tobacco work has involved all agronomic areas. These studies have included projects in breeding, fertilization, insect control, disease prevention, weed control and no-till system development.
Livestock work is centered on the utilization of forage. Like much of Northwestern North Carolina, the majority of the land at UMRS is unsuited for cultivation. Management intensive grazing experiments are conducted with the cattle. Past forage work saw the development of West Jefferson mineral, a supplement with selenium, which is very low in the mountain pastures.
Upper Mountain has a resident herd of beef cattle. In addition to the resident herd, Upper Mountain houses cattle from other stations during the summer months. Cool temperatures and high quality forage lead to a higher conception rate in dairy and beef cattle, therefore increasing the number of calves and reducing feed costs for the Research Stations Division.