Inside the ARECs: Reynolds Homestead greenhouse

The Agricultural Research and Extension Centers are a network of 11 research centers located throughout the state that emphasize the close working relationship between the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station and Virginia Cooperative Extension. “Inside the ARECs” highlights the work and accomplishments of these 11 centers and will appear in every Insights.

The Reynolds Homestead Forest Resources Research Center in Critz, Virginia, was created in 1969 to study forest biology, including genetics, physiology and soils. Specific projects include harvesting to increase forest health and productivity, site preparation, forest fertilization, loblolly pine physiology and forest herbicide testing. Facilities include 780 acres, a 2-acre pond, an historic site and laboratory, office, continuing education and greenhouse space. A new and much needed addition is an 1,800-square-foot greenhouse with more precise climate control and enough space to handle small trees.

The new greenhouse at Reynolds Homestead has superior climate control under both summer and winter conditions.

The new greenhouse at Reynolds Homestead has superior climate control under both summer and winter conditions.

The new greenhouse has already been used to root a set of research plants. Associate Professor Amy Brunner and Assistant Professor Jason Holliday in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment will begin a major study at the greenhouse looking at nutrient use and growth responses to daylight in black cottonwood. They will ultimately identify the gene regulatory networks that control these responses.

“The study would have been extremely difficult to execute in the 42-year-old original greenhouse,” Holliday said. “The new greenhouse is very well formulated and makes it less problematic to run the experiment with a minimum of environmental variation.”

AREC Superintendent Kyle Peer managed the greenhouse planning and construction.

“The new greenhouse offers better climate control, more energy efficiency, and more options for growing plants up to nine feet tall,” he said. “The new tables and concrete floor are easier to sterilize, decreasing the potential for parasites and disease.”

The structure was built with financial support from the Nancy Susan Reynolds Endowment, the College of Natural Resources and Environment, Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and Dow Agrosciences.

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