The Georgia Mountain Research & Education Center (GMREC) is one of eight off-campus research centers in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES).

The GMREC consists of 415 acres in the north Georgia mountains with varying soil types and includes modern field equipment. The farm is in Union County, bordering North Carolina.

Local agronomic crops include apples, blueberries, cut flowers, vegetables, sweet corn, field corn, soybeans, cattle, and wine grapes.

  • USDA zone 7A with extreme lows from 0-5 deg F and annual precipitation of 60-70 inches. 6A & 6B zones exist in the county at higher elevations. Growing Season for row crops is May 1-Oct 15.

  • Soil series vary considerably across the REC. The predominant soil series is the Hayesville series; a fine sandy loam that dominates the mountain slopes. At the base of these slopes, clay loams in the series Bradson and Transylvania are found.

  • Total acreage: 415
    • Dryland acres - 47
    • Irrigated acres (currently) - 2.5 drip
    Irrigation capabilities:
    • Number of wells - 0
    • Ponds/lakes/rivers - Notley River with 100k/gal/day permitted for irrigation
    • Surface drip area covered - 7.5 acres can be drip irrigated
    Production systems:
    • Conventional tillage - 8 acres
    • No-till - 32 acres
    • Pasture/hay - 54 acres
    • Cattle (head) - 81 steer seasonally
    • Vineyard - 2 acres inside electrified fence
    • Apple Trees (semi-dwarf) - 8 acres - Inside wove wire fence
    • Apple Trees (dwarf) - 0.6 acres - Inside wove wire fence
    • Blueberry - 0.8 acres - Inside wove wire fence
    • Nursery - 1.34 acres - Inside wove wire fence
    • Office - 2,145 sq.ft.
    • Storage - 12,757 sq.ft. split among 7 buildings
    • Maintenance shop - 400 sq.ft.
    • Conference/meeting rooms - 1,248 sq.ft. (located at main office building)
    • Overnight accommodations - 983sq.ft.
    • Cattle weigh barn - 2,400 sq.ft.
    • Tractors: JD 105,115,55 HP, KB 106,64,19,15 HP, Deutz 46 HP
    • Fertilizer Spreaders: Vicon broadcast, 1st Products drop
    • Planters: Kinzie 4 row-36” edge-vac, Cole 4 row- 30”, Great Plains no-till 7.5” rows- 8ft wide
    • Sprayers: Generic 3pt- 15 ft wide, DW 500 gal with power unit airblast, DW 100 gal PTO airblast
    • Tillage: Harrell Switch Plow, Kuhn Power harrow, Tufline Harrow
    • Harvest: Hege 125 Plot Combine corn head, New Idea Picker
    • Livestock: Livestock Trailer, NH Grinder-Mixer, Schuler Wagon Feeder
    • Weather station - UGA Weather Network
    • Plant dryers - Yes
    • Drones - DJI Mavic Air 2
    • CO2 sprayers - 2L & 3L

What community activities are available?

The GMREC community council promotes public engagement with education programs for children, outreach programs for adults, and maintaining a public garden at the center. There are around 150 volunteers who assist with these functions, bringing more than 4,000 children and 900 adults to campus annually. Since 1999, GMREC has opened its orchards up to kindergarteners who may for the first time see apples growing on trees and hear the story of Johnny Appleseed. Over 800 children and nearly as many adults come to this four-day event in the fall.

The Community Council’s Preservation Committee maintains a two-acre garden that highlights the benefits of native plants in the landscape. Guests can come to the campus and see the gardens Monday through Friday. The volunteers give guided tours of the gardens on Mondays.

Community outreach

History and Mission

The Georgia Mountain Branch Experiment Station, as it was previously known, was established in 1930. Located three miles south of downtown Blairsville, the station was first a branch of the Georgia Experiment Station in Griffin. The founder of the station, H.P. Stuckey, was the director of the Georgia Experiment Station. He was assisted by Bonnell Stone, a Union County resident. The initial 210-acre tract of mostly wooded land (35 acres in cultivation) was leased from Bob Christopher and purchased a few years later by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents.

In 1932, John Bailey was named to head the station, a position he held until his retirement in 1972. The station's earliest research projects focused on the potential for vegetables and fruits to upgrade the economy of the area. This early work revealed good variety selection with proper fertilizer produced excellent yields of high-quality vegetables and fruits.

The station was expanded in the late 1930s and early 1940s to include field research on feed grains, forages, soil fertility, dairying, and sheep. A soil test laboratory, fruit stand, and community cannery were built during this time by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. In 1938, the station entered a cooperative agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority known as the GA-TVA Council. The purpose of the council was to promote the economic usage of TVA fertilizers in the valley counties of Georgia. Station personnel showed that yields of feed grains and forages could be greatly increased with good fertilizer and proper variety selections. As a result, a farmer from Union County was the first in Georgia to produce 100 bushels of corn per acre.

The 1950s, '60s, '70s, and '80s saw significant research gains in apple production, forage evaluations for sheep production, soil-test-crop-yield correlations, variety testing of horticultural crops, beef cattle stocker feeding, and swine production. During this time a station researcher became the first scientist to discover that the black rot fungus invaded the apple at bloom. This tradition of outstanding research continued throughout the 1990s and includes the cultivation and introduction of TifBlair centipede grass. In 2000, the station was renamed the Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center. The name was changed to better reflect the purpose of branch stations statewide. 

Current research focuses on commodities including apples, grapes, blueberries, field corn, sweet corn, soybeans, fescue, orchard grass, alfalfa, ryegrass, tomatoes, and beef cattle. The climate is perfect for evaluating cold hardiness for new cultivars that include Alfalfa, Crape Myrtle, Vitex, Abelia, Bermuda, Centipede, and Zoysia turf grasses. Additionally, UGA graduate students often conduct their research at the center.

Georgia Mountain REC hosts over 4,000 children annually with the help of the Community Council. This group also promotes educational seminars and maintains a public garden on the campus. We also closely collaborate with nearby Extension faculty and the Union County Extension Office.