Research on the potential of greenhouse culinary herbs

Research on the potential of greenhouse culinary herbs

A Michigan State University (MSU)-led team has received a $3.4 million USDA grant to evaluate the profitability and environmental sustainability of fresh cut and potted culinary herbs produced in controlled environments. The funding is part of the Specialty Crop Research Initiative of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The U.S. market for fresh culinary herbs is rapidly expanding. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, popularity of the specialty crop increased 10% to 12% annually from 2004 to 2014 and has continued to climb. At this point, domestic field production and imports have been used to keep pace with demand.

Culinary herbs are divided into two market segments: fresh cut for the leaves and stems, and potted plants. Roughly 69% of domestic fresh-cut herbs are field grown in Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, and Texas, and nearly $300 million worth are imported each year. But both field production and imports face mounting challenges, such as diseases, droughts and floods, foodborne illnesses, environmental impact, and supply chain disruptions.

Researchers will work to demonstrate how controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) can create a more sustainable and economically fruitful future for the industry. The multi-institutional research and outreach collaboration, called CEA HERB, includes investigators from MSU, Iowa State University, North Carolina State University, Texas Tech University, the University of Tennessee, and the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

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Photo created by jcomp - www.freepik.com

 

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