Outline

The Research center conducts beef cattle research emphasizing value added production practices like genetic improvement, pre- and post-weaning management, and forage and commodity feed utilization. Crops research includes dark and burley tobacco breeding, improved cultural practices, and tobacco curing. Some of the most widely grown tobacco varieties in the world were partially developed at Highland Rim AgResearch and Education Center.

Tobacco research projects include improving yield, disease resistance, and quality of burley and dark tobacco Other projects include tobacco rotations, nitrogen fertility, double barn curing and reducing tobacco specific nitrosamines in the cured leaf. The combination of environment and soil properties in this region produces high quality dark tobacco that has not been equaled in any region of the world.

Current beef cattle research includes fescue endophyte effects on beef male fertility and forage utilization protocols. Future research is planned to investigate the potential of native warm season grasses as forage for beef cattle, and bioenergy crop.

The Center has also been a key location for development of improved herbicide tolerant and non-tolerant soybean cultivars. Projects include evaluating soybean lines with increased yield potential, plant disease tolerance, enhanced protein quality and concentration, and modified fatty acid composition for improved human and animal nutrition.

Additional research includes improving production efficiency in viable crops for the Highland Rim region. Research involves improving production systems for alternative commodities for adaptability to the region.

Project Leaders & Projects


Agricultural Economics


Dr. Margarita Velandia, Assistant Professor

Economic evaluation of alternative tobacco handling systems for TSNA reduction and improved labor efficiency in tobacco. Investigations will include investigating the effects of bale moisture, storage conditions, and length of time stored on TSNA levels in dark-fired tobacco.


Animal Science


Dr. Fred Hopkins, Professor

Cooperative work with other researchers investigating intact beef males and steers grazing pastures of tall fescue cultivars with different endophytes and/or clover. Comparing the effects of KY 31 E+ tall fescue with or without clover, Jesup tall fescue with or without a novel endophyte on the performance of intact beef males and steers.

Dr. James Neel, Professor

Past investigations have included effects of Southeast Pride Blue Tag cattle health and management program on performance of feeder calves.

Dr. Neal Schrick, Associate Professor

Emphasis at HRREC has been focused primarily on reduced reproductive efficiency. Research has focused on several areas, specifically embryonic loss associated with elevated uterine prostaglandin F 2a, reproductive alterations observed in both bulls and cows grazing endophyte-infected fescue, nutritional parameters affecting pregnancy rate, and economical methods of estrus synchronization and timed insemination.

Dr. John Waller, Associate Professor

Evaluation of tall fescue cultivars with different endophytes and other potentially promising forages in small plots under grazing. Objectives are to evaluate under grazing the long-term persistence of selected tall fescue cultivars containing wild and novel endophytes, and to determine the risks involved in potential escape or dominance of the novel endophytes, and to evaluate the adaptation of a few other potentially promising orchard grasses and clovers.

Investigation of pastures of tall fescue cultivars with different endophytes and/or clover for intact beef males and steers. To compare the effects of KY 31 E+ tall fescue with or without clover, Jesup tall fescue with or without a novel endophyte on the performance of intact beef males and steers.


Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science


Dr. Brian Leib, Extension Specialist

Projects have investigated the efficiency of trickle irrigation for maximizing yield and quality of burley and dark fire-cured tobacco. Other projects have explored fertigation and plasticulture in burley tobacco reducing fertilizer input and nitrosamine levels.

More recent projects have investigated the yield response of fescue, orchard grass, bermudagrass, and alfalfa to full and deficit irrigation as compared to no irrigation under the humid growing conditions of Tennessee. Dr. Leib also cooperates with other project leaders similarly related forage irrigation projects.

Donald Tyler, Professor

Evaluating nitrogen response in corn. To collect data in order to develop a nitrogen response curve for field corn.

Hubert J. Savoy, Associate Professor

K2O and Sulfur fertility management for quality Bermudagrass hay production. Evaluating the effects of potassium and sulfur fertilization on the yield and quality of hybrid Bermudagrass hay.

Verification of University of Tennessee fertilizer recommendations. Forage system trials consist primarily of N and K rate studies in hybrid bermudagrass hay systems. Micronutrients may be involved if initial studies show the need for such. These are very nutrient intense systems and little information is available for fertility management.

Mr. Jim Wills, Professor

Works cooperatively with Dr. Dave Lockwood on the evaluation of Rabbiteye and Highbush Blueberries utilizing raised beds and trickle irrigation and on a project designed to evaluate several table and wine grape selections on the Highland Rim.


Entomology & Plant Pathology


Dr. Steve Bost, Professor

Cucurbit downy mildew sentinel plots. This is a CSREES ipmPIPE regional program whose primary objective is to document when and where cucurbit downy mildew occurs. The secondary objective is to determine which hosts get downy mildew and at what level of severity. Evaluation of transplant water applications of fungicides for tobacco plant safety. The objective is to determine effects on leaf yield of the application of Ridomil and ProPhyt in transplant water.

Previous projects have included the management of Terrazole fungicide in tobacco float beds and pythium management in cantaloupes.

Dr. Frank Hale, Professor

Evaluation of new insect control technologies for incorporation in an integrated pest management strategy for dark fired cured tobacco.


Forestry, Wildlife & Fisheries


Dr. Craig A. Harper, Associate Professor and Wildlife Specialist

Works cooperatively with Dr. Keyser on native warm season grass projects.

Dr. Patrick Keyser, Associate Professor

Use of native perennial grasses for biofuels feedstock promises to become an important land use practice in the South. Currently, management guidelines are based on the use of Alamo switchgrass in pure stands managed with a single post-growing season cutting. In order to provide increased flexibility to producers and to provide enhanced wildlife habitat, two basic modifications to the current system will be explored. First, a two-cut system will be explored in which the first cutting could be diverted to forage production. Secondly, a three species mixture in the stands that will provide both improved forage quality and enhanced wildlife habitat quality will be explored.

Evaluate three species of native warm-season grasses (NWSG) and two grazing treatments and to determine production parameters for both livestock forage and biofuels.

Establishing Switchgrass into Small Grains. Evaluating the efficacy of no-till plantings into winter annuals for establishing switchgrass in the upper South. More specifically, to evaluate establishment success in wheat, rye, barley, oats, and a fallow control, and to evaluate three seeding dates, dormant, mid-spring, and post-harvest into each of these winter annuals. Evaluation of the efficacy of dormant season plantings for establishing switchgrass in the upper South.

Dr. Scott E. Schlarbaum, Professor

Pondcypress (Taxodium ascendens Brongn.) open-pollinated progeny test. Study genetic variation of various traits in pond cypress open-pollinated families from South Carolina; compare survival and growth rates between pond cypress with bald cypress families/provenances and dawn redwood open-pollinated seedlings planted at the same location, over time; Make ornamental selections of pond cypress for the landscaping industry based on growth, form, needle morphology, and fall color.

Bald cypress [Taxodium distichum (L.) L. C. Rich.] and dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides Hu et Cheng) open-pollinated progeny/provenance and comparison test. Study genetic variation of various traits in bald cypress open-pollinated families/provenances; compare survival and growth rates between bald cypress families/provenances with dawn redwood open-pollinated seedlings; make ornamental selections of bald cypress and dawn redwood for the landscaping industry based on growth, form and fall color; convert genetic test into a seedling seed orchard to produce.

Dr. Larry Wilson, Professor

Major interests are in fisheries management and aquaculture.

HRREC projects have involved fresh water prawn (FWP) stocking rates in farm ponds, influence of synthetic and natural substrate on FWP production. Other projects have involved in controlling aquatic weeds in FWP ponds with natural substrate.


Plant Sciences


Dr. Fred Allen, Professor

Assessment of Yield & Agronomic Characteristics of Small Grain (Wheat and Barley) Varieties. Obtain seed yield and agronomic trait data for commercially-available private and public wheat and barley varieties for the purpose of comparing their relative advantages and disadvantages for production in Tennessee.

Performance Tests of Corn Hybrids for Adaptation in Tennessee. Evaluate seed yield and agronomic trait data for commercially-available private and public corn hybrids for the purpose of comparing their relative advantages and disadvantages for production in Tennessee.

Silage Yield Test of Corn Hybrids Adapted to Tennessee. Obtain and evaluate silage yield and quality and agronomic trait data for commercially-available corn hybrids for the purpose of comparing their relative advantages and disadvantages for silage production in Tennessee.

Performance Testing of Soybean Varieties for Adaptation to Tennessee. Evaluate the seed yield and agronomic trait data for commercially-available private and public soybean varieties for the purpose of comparing their relative advantages and disadvantages for production in Tennessee.

Yield & Agronomic Trait Assessment of Grain Sorghum Hybrids. Obtain seed yield and agronomic trait data for commercially-available private and public grain sorghum hybrids for the purpose of comparing their relative advantages and disadvantages for production in Tennessee.

Evaluation of Selected Seed Treatments on 'Alamo' Switchgrass; and Biomass Yield Potential of a New Experimental Line.

Dr. Andy Bailey, Associate Professor

Yield and TSNA comparisons of double barned dark-fire tobacco curing systems; Steaming vs. Overhead misting takedown systems; scaffold wagon vs. bulk on flatbed wagon pre-stripping storage; and varieties NL Madole LC vs. KY 171 vs. KT D6 LC. Objectives include determining the best management practices for double-crop curing systems with regard to variety selection, conditioning method, and takedown method.

Re-evaluation of crop rotation strategies for dark tobacco production systems. Objectives include comparing various lengths of dark tobacco rotation as well as the effects of dark tobacco variety and use of a preventative fungicide.

Dr. Gary Bates, Associate Professor

Evaluation of tall fescue cultivars with different endophytes and other potentially promising forages in small plots under grazing. Objectives are to evaluate under grazing the long-term persistence of selected tall fescue cultivars containing wild and novel endophytes, and to determine the risks involved in potential escape or dominance of the novel endophytes, and to evaluate the adaptation of a few other potentially promising orchard grasses and clovers.

Investigation of pastures of tall fescue cultivars with different endophytes and/or clover for intact beef males and steers. To compare the effects of KY 31 E+ tall fescue with or without clover, Jesup tall fescue with or without a novel endophyte on the performance of intact beef males and steers. Additional trials evaluated steer weight gain with the above system in addition to a rye/ryegrass component.

More recent research work has involved the evaluation of forage varieties; alfalfa, Bermudagrass, clover, warm season annual grasses, and warm and cool season perennial grasses.

Cooperative projects are also in place on native warm season grass establishment, grazing trials with Pat Keyser.

Dr. Paul Denton, Professor

Conservation tillage tobacco production, comparing no-till and strip-tilled transplanted tobacco to conventional tillage burley tobacco.

Pesticide residue field testing program: Objective is to conduct pesticide residue field trials for registered agrochemicals applied at maximum labeled rates and application timings according to the label.

Nitrogen Management in Key Varieties for TSNA Reduction in Burley. Objectives are threefold; 1) evaluate the differential yield and TSNA response to nitrogen fertilization between current leading varieties and older standard varieties accounting for 80% + of current production, and compare them to a high nicotine to nornicotine converter line, 2) evaluate the use of soil and plant nitrate measurements and indirect measurement with a chlorophyll meter as predictors of yield response to N fertilizer, and 3) evaluate the use of these measurements as indicators of cured leaf nitrate, nitrite and TSNA content.

Influence of Harvest Date after Topping and Nitrogen Rates on TSNA Formation. Evaluation of the interaction of different nitrogen rates with harvest time after topping could improve our understanding of optimum nitrate reserves at harvest and the influence of delayed harvest on plant nitrate levels and their impact on TSNA formation.

Dr. David Lockwood, Professor

Dr. Lockwood is an Extension Specialist specializing in tree fruits, nuts and wine.

Dr. Lockwood is in charge of educational programs involving tree fruits, tree nuts, small fruits (except strawberries) and fruit tree nurseries. Included in this effort are publication development, newsletters, meetings, mass media, personal communication and personal visits. He serves as a resource person for the county Extension staffs. Dave is also responsible for the apple program with the University of Georgia Extension Service.

One of his current projects involves the evaluation of Rabbiteye and Highbush Blueberries utilizing raised beds and trickle irrigation. He is also in the process of evaluating several table and wine grape selections under Highland Rim growing conditions.

Dr. Bob Miller, Professor

Preplant nitrogen rate interaction with foliar fertilization of tobacco. Objectives are to determine the efficiency of foliar fertilization for maximizing yield and quality of burley and dark fire-cured tobacco.

To evaluate genetic lines for potential use in the development of experimental hybrid breeding lines having black shank and fusarium wilt resistance. Data will be collected for yield and quality.

Burley Parental Breeding Lines Trials: To evaluate genetic lines for potential use in the development of experimental hybrid breeding lines having blue mold, black shank, and fusarium wilt resistance. Data will be collected for yield and quality.

Experimental Burley Hybrid Breeding Line Test: To evaluate experimental burley hybrid breeding lines for yield and quality characteristics. Outstanding lines will be entered into subsequent regional trials to determine their suitability for eventual release as commercial burley varieties.

Regional quality burley test: This is part of a Regional Project to screen burley tobacco breeding lines for acceptable burley characteristics prior to their release as commercial varieties. Data will be collected for yield and quality; samples will be collected for assessment of industry usability, smoke panel sensory evaluations, and chemical analyses that will be conducted by participating tobacco companies.

Commercial Burley Variety Test: To evaluate commercial burley tobacco varieties for yield and quality. Results will be used by Extension personnel for presentation to burley producers at field day and extension meetings.

Dark Air-Cured Breeding Line Test: To evaluate experimental dark air-cured breeding lines for yield and quality.

Dark Fire-Cured Breeding Line Test: To evaluate experimental dark fire-cured breeding lines for yield and quality characteristics. Genetic Basis for TSNA Formation in Burley Tobacco: Previous analyses of burley varieties suggested there are differences among varieties for NNN and total TSNA that are not correlated to reduced nornicotine content. Of 15 varieties evaluated, the three entries having the lowest TSNA and Nitrite N levels had a common female parent.

Best Management Practices for Reduced TSNA Content in Burley Tobacco: Data from recent studies suggest that KT 204LC produces lower levels of TSNA than ms KY 14 X L8, regardless of curing environment. While it is likely that this difference is genetically controlled, it is possible that differences may be explained by maturity differences between the two varieties at time of harvest. Data from additional studies suggest that, in general, higher levels of nitrogen fertilization result in increased levels of TSNA, and that relatively low levels of nitrogen are necessary for maximum yield of KT 204LC. Studies were designed to attempt to identify best management practices to minimize TSNA formation in KT 204LC and ms KY 14 X L8LC.

Dark Air-Cured and Dark Fire-Cured Variety Test: To evaluate 15 dark air-cured tobacco varieties for yield, quality and chemical characteristics.

Dr. Vincent Pantalone, Assistant Professor

HRREC Soybean Intermediate, Elite, and Uniform Trials: Yield evaluation of new TAES soybean lines.

Soybean small-seeded advanced yield trial. The objective is to evaluate yield, protein, and other agronomic characteristics of small-seeded Tennessee experimental soybean lines for Natto production.

QTL discovery for soybean isoflavones and agronomic traits. To identify OTLs for soybean isoflavones, protein, oil, and agronomic traits in a highly inbred population of Essex x Williams F6-derived lines.

Low saturated-fat soybean heritability and genotypic correlations among agronomic and seed quality traits. The objectives are two fold. The first objective is to estimate genetic variances, heritability, and genotypic correlations between low palmitic, low linolenic soybean and agronomic and seed quality traits and the second objective is to identify superior new agronomic and SCN-resistant lines with desirable fatty acid oil quality as selections for further development.

Intermediate yield trial of MG VI low-saturated-fat, advanced Tennessee Experimental pure lines. The objective is to evaluate whether newly developed, low-saturated fat soybean lines provide high yield and other desirable agronomic characteristics in production regions of Tennessee.

Soybean Biodiesel & Selenium: The purpose of this trial is to test the hypothesis that increased oleic soybean lines produce oil with significantly improved oxidative stability for biodiesel, evaluate the environmental stability of oleic acid concentration for normal soybeans compared with that for increased oleic soybeans when grown in multiple environments in the southeast and mid-South regions of the United States and evaluate the agronomic and seed quality attributes of increased oleic acid soybeans to validate their acceptability for farmers, the food processing industry, as well as the biodiesel industry, and to test the influence of selenium spray treatments on soybean oil oxidative stability for enhanced biodiesel.

Dr. Angela Thompson, Assistant Professor

Nitrogen Rate and Yield Response in Corn. To evaluate yield response in field corn to different rates of nitrogen fertilizer in a corn-soybean rotation.

Dr. Dennis West, Professor

Wheat yield trials with experimental varieties. Select high yielding varieties to advance for possible release to the commercial seed industry.

Dr. Annette Wszelaki, Assistant Professor

Reduced Tillage Production Systems for Tomato. To evaluate the feasibility of reduced tillage tomato production systems and compare plant establishment, days to harvest, marketable yield, pest pressure, and fruit quality of tomatoes grown in reduced tillage and conventional till systems.

Variety Evaluation of Synergistic Bicolor Sweet Corn for Tennessee. To evaluate emergence, plant vigor (height), days to harvest, marketable yield, ear traits (length, height, width, shape, row count) and kernel sweetness of commercially available synergistic bicolor sweet corn varieties and their adaptability for production across Tennessee.


USDA/ARS/Tennessee State University


Dr. David Brauer and Dr. Joshua Idassi

Evaluation of growth and production of selected hybrid black walnut varieties in upper middle Tennessee.