U. S.  Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service

HISTORY AND MISSION OF THE U.S. HORTICULTURAL RESEARCH LABORATORY

The U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory was founded by Drs. Herbert J. Webber and Walter T. Swingle in 1892 in Eustis, Florida to work on citrus production problems. The laboratory was moved in 1931 to downtown Orlando and again in 1952 to Princeton Street, situated on about 4 acres, with a 500-acre farm located north of Orlando near Leesburg where most of the breeding and field experiments are still conducted.

The laboratory relocated a third time in 2000 to a modern facility in Fort Pierce. The new U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory has almost 170,000 square feet in offices, labs, greenhouses, support building, etc., which more than doubles the size of the laboratory in Orlando. This new state-of-the-art laboratory is situated on 18 acres that are adjacent to the University of Florida’s Indian River Research and Education Center. In addition, a farm center is located 0.5 miles from the main laboratory. Altogether the new facility encompasses about 350 acres.

At present there are 25 research and support scientists and 70 staff in total. When fully staffed, the laboratory will house 125 personnel. Of these, 34 will be scientists and the balance will be technicians, maintenance, farm workers, administrative staff, etc. Also, the laboratory will house visiting scientists and students receiving training.

The mission of the laboratory is to:

The laboratory has enjoyed a good working relationship with the citrus, ornamental and vegetable industries throughout its history, and its scientists are frequently asked to provide assistance to these industries. The laboratory also has had cooperative research relationships with the University of Florida, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, Indian River Community College, The Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce, and Florida Atlantic University. Many of the professional staff hold adjunct faculty positions with these collaborative universities and have participated in the training of undergraduate and graduate students. The research staff also have numerous national and international collaborations.

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Last modified: 2/19/2001.   Send comments or questions to Mr. Wayne Moore at WMoore@ushrl.ars.usda.gov.