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NC State Extension

Specialty Crops

Specialty crops are new 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. Learn more by visiting the North Carolina Specialty Crops Program →

 Specialty Crop Resources

Biodynamic FarmingBiodynamics

Biodynamics is a method of organic farming with a spiritual-ethical-ecological or holistic approach to agriculture, food production, and nutrition. Read how the biodynamic movement has driven growers to create diversified, harmonious ecosystems within their agricultural operations.


Hops are an up-and-coming crop in North Carolina with over 75 craft breweries and 80+ farmers across the state. NC State University now has a research hop yard dedicated to this new and growing industry. Find out why the experimental project is attracting established breweries to North Carolina.

NC HerbsHerbs

NC Herbs provides up-to-date access and practical information on the production and marketing of herbaceous crops. The Department of Horticulture research extension program is dedicated to the development of sustainable and organic production systems for herbs, vegetables, and a broad variety of specialty crops.

EchinaceaMedicinal Herbs

Want to grow medicinal herbs? The Medicinal Herbs for Commerce project provides successful tools to grow and market medicinal herbs. See how North Carolina growers are attracting industry investors through the medicinal herb quality and promotion of organic methods of cultivation.

Shiitake MushroomsMushrooms

Mushroom production and consumption has 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.

NC Small Fruit & Specialty Crop IPM

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.

Black TruffleTruffles

Truffles are a 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.

NC Alternative Crops and OrganicsNC Alternative Crops and Organics

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.