Specialty Crops (New and Emerging Crops)
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Specialty crops are new and emerging crops that have not been commercially grown in a particular region. Ranging from exotic purple potatoes to more commonly known crops like lettuce, producing specialty crops generally introduces farmers to a new way of growing. The North Carolina Specialty Crops Program was a multi-agency, statewide program dedicated to new crop development. Our program information continues to serve as a resource on new and specialty crops for farmers, entrepreneurs, and consumers.
Specialty Crop Resources
Biodynamics is a method of organic farming with a spiritual-ethical-ecological or holistic approach to agriculture, food production, and nutrition. Learn what Biodynamic agriculture is, where there are Biodynamic farms in NC, and where to find resources.
Hops are an up-and-coming crop in North Carolina. NC State University is breeding hops for this region and has research hop yards on two research stations in western NC.
Find resources on a large number of culinary and aromatic herbs and links to relevant factsheets on this page.
For centuries, industrial hemp (plant species Cannabis sativa) has been a source of fiber and oilseed used worldwide to produce a variety of industrial and consumer products. Currently, more than 30 nations grow industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, which is sold on the world market. In the United States, however, production is strictly controlled under existing laws.
The medicinal herbs program engages in research, demonstration, and educational efforts to grow the medicinal, culinary, and aromatic herb industry across North Carolina for almost three decades. Information is developed from our many projects on growing, processing, marketing, and trying to make an income from herbs of all kinds.
Mushroom production and consumption have seen a resurgence across North Carolina. Shiitake mushrooms were the industry standard for the past 25 years, but recently there have been more inquiries on oyster, reishi, truffles, and other varieties. See the shiitake log cultivation guide and what our state growers are doing.
Studies the insects and mites that eat what you want to eat and the pollinators that make your food possible. Specialty Crop Entomology Laboratory at NC State University works in strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, grape, tobacco, and other specialty crop systems, and our projects may address whole farm, single insect species, and even molecular questions.
Truffles are an underground edible fungus often growing within the sub-surface root structure of several tree species. Learn more about the highly prized culinary delicacy and North Carolina’s efforts to make truffles a profitable crop.
The NC Alternative Crops and Organics program strives to improve farmers’ sustainability and profitability by sharing information from their agricultural research and extension programs on organic farming, medicinal herbs, and many alternative crops.
NC State Extension program that connects farmers, landowners, and service providers across North Carolina, helping to grow the state’s agriculture industry.