Fourteen students from the Polk County High agriculture program recently toured the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Center in Mills River.

The students are currently enrolled in the horticulture classes taught by Chauncey Barber.

As part of the tour, students were able to observe the breeding work being done in the fruit, vegetable and ornamental programs at the research farm. Polk students visited the tissue culture lab where scientists are developing new plants for both the nursery and bio-fuels industries. Tours of both the tomato and ornamental greenhouses gave students an opportunity to see some of the most recent work in the world of plant breeding.

Fortunately the weather cooperated, allowing the students to tour the research apple orchard at the state-managed farm. Students learned about latest apple training systems that can manage up to 1,200 dwarf apple trees per acre.

Students who participated included Grayson Bradley, Colin Searcy, Meghan Blackwell, Wyatt Kay, Max Zinn, John Price, Tyler Lawrence, Brooke Hostetler, Claudia Truesdale, Bryson Edwards, Jordan Bishop, Josh Lawter, Blake Rackley and Fidel Hernandez. In addition to Barber, the Polk students were accompanied by volunteer John Vining.

“One of the goals of our ag program at Polk County High School is to show students the current methods of farming as well as those new crops and methods to be used in the future,” Barber said. “Our students always come away from this trip learning something that we could not gain from the classroom.”