The New U.S. Vegetable Laboratory Building – Opportunities and Challenges

Pickling Cucumber Improvement Committee Meeting Abstract

Claude E. Thomas

USDA, ARS, U.S. Vegetable Laboratory

The USDA, ARS, U.S. Vegetable Laboratory (USVL) is currently housed in widely separated, mostly 60 year old buildings and trailer units on both sides of U.S. Highway 17 south of Charleston, SC. The main complex is located on 3 acres of ARS property on the south side of Highway 17. Additional USVL buildings and the research farm are located on 436 acres of ARS property on the north side of this highway. The Clemson University Coastal Research and Education Center (CREC) consists of buildings of similar age and condition, as well as a research farm located on 324 acres of university property adjacent to the ARS property.

The research program at the USVL addresses established national problems in vegetable crop production and protection with emphasis on the southeastern United States. The mission of the Laboratory is to: a) improve genetic populations of vegetable crops by combining resistance to established diseases and pests with favored quality characters and improved yield potentials; and b) develop knowledge on the biology, ecology, and epidemiology of established diseases and pests of vegetable crops that can be used as a basis for the development and implementation of new, reliable, environmentally sound management programs.

A new federal research complex of 112,600 square feet (Phases I and II) is planned to replace the existing USVL and CREC laboratory, office, and greenhouse buildings and will be located on the north side of Highway 17. The Congress has appropriated $18.4 million for design and construction of Phase I, consisting of a 53,740 sq. ft. laboratory-office building and physical plant. Construction began in 1999 and will be completed in the Fall of 2001. This building will support the present staffs of the USVL (10 SY) and the CREC (6 SY) and permit a moderate increase of these staffs. This provides a unique opportunity for the ARS to strengthen the program at the Charleston location by expanding it to address a wider range of problems encountered in vegetable crop production and protection. Funds have not yet been appropriated for Phase II, which would include the greenhouse and headhouse areas.

The expanded opportunities provided by the new building are accompanied by the challenges of increased operational costs for the new, state-of-the-art complex, resulting in a major increase over current operating costs when Phase I of the new building is completed in the Fall of 2001. Clemson has agreed to pay their proportionate share of the estimated operating costs. Even so, ARS’ share of these additional operating costs will severely impact the research funds available at the location.

For further information, contact:

  • Dr. Claude E. Thomas, Research Leader
  • USDA, ARS, U.S. Vegetable Laboratory
  • 2875 Savannah Highway, Charleston, SC 29414
  • Telephone: 843-556-0840; Fax: 843-763-7013
  • E-mail:

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