Pee Dee Research Station to Showcase Alternative Crops

In their centennial year, the Pee Dee Research and Education Center near Florence, South Carolina will be hosting their summer field day on Tuesday, August 21st. Bruce Fortnum, Director of Pee Dee Research & Education Center:

“We will have a number of field tours highlighting research here on the station and we do a variety of work on agronomic field crops. Our all crops field day is what we are having next Tuesday. We would cover commodities such as cotton, peanuts, and corn. But also new crops like flax and sorghum. In addition, new bio enterprises we will be talking about the potential for sugar cane and sorghum as a bio fuel.”

As Fortnum mentioned, some alternative crops are gaining in popularity in the Pee Dee Region, and beyond, one of them is flax:

“Its almost grown like winter wheat here. It comes off a little earlier in the spring and the fiber is used for fabric. Advanced technology has a new process where they can use the flax fiber to blend in with cotton and give you a very soft fabric. It gives our producers another crop to choose from. One advantage to flax is that you can harvest it a little earlier than you would wheat so you can plant your second crop earlier as well.”

And of course grain sorghum has made a big splash in the Carolinas this year; Fortnum explains sorghum will be on display at the field day, as well:

“Sorghum is a new crop and we have had a lot of interest with the high demand and shortfall of grain. Sorghum is a crop that we can grow here very well but we have not had the market for it in the past. But there is a lot more interest in sorghum from the animal production in North Carolina to buy grain locally as a substitute for corn that may be difficult to get from the Midwest with the problems they are experiencing this year.”

With a warmer winter in the southeast than normal this past year, winter crops experienced some issues that aren’t seen every year. Fortnum says those will be addressed at the field day:

“Any new crop that you bring into an area, there are always issues that you have to deal with. We had a large scale mildew epidemic this past year with flax that was planted in South Carolina. So the experiment station here will have programs on developing full procedures to manage that mildew. We had a much warmer winter last year and as a consequence we had diseases on our winter crop. The wheat had some significant rust.”

Fortnum explains that the field day tours get underway at 9:00 am sharp:

“Our tours start at 9 and run till 12. We will have some lunch speakers and then wrap up around 1:30. We will have pesticide credits and certified crop advisor credits for participants.”

For more information on the Pee Dee Research & Education Center field day,vist our calendar.

Bruce Fortnum, Director of the Pee Dee Research Station is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.