Dr. Miller's first efforts were directed at improving production of the sweet potato, which had become part of the basic diet of farmers. Unit 1 Puerto Rico, the first sweet potato variety with uniform quality, came from his plots on the Hill Farm, as did the popular commercial varieties. Two of these Varieties are Centennial, developed by Dr. Hernandez and Beauregard, developed by Dr. Ralston. Dr. Mikell developed the country's first wilt resistant tomato, The Louisiana Red. Hill Farm research produced Irish potato varieties such as Red LaSoda, LaChipper and Fontenot, all developed by the late Dr. Fontenot, which were national standards long after Louisiana ceased commercial potato production. New varieties of figs (LSU Purple developed by Dr. O'Rourke), pears, hot peppers, okra (Green Velvet and Gold Coast which were USDA releases from Africa), strawberries (Tangi and Daybreak developed by Hawthorne), shallots, lima beans, cabbage, and collards were all developed at The Hill Farm.
The Hill Farm also became a testing site for the American Rose Society where the All-American Rose Selection tests were conducted. Breeding programs of hibiscus by Dr. Kimbrough, Louisiana iris by Dr. Hogan, Easter lilies by Dr. Cochran, day lilies, daffodils, and camellias along with many other ornamentals were all widely recognized.
During the years of intensive research the LSU campus continued to grow and expand and buildings soon reached The Hill Farm. In the early 1960s a large portion of The Hill Farm by the University Lake was used to build the sorority and fraternity houses that are a landmark to the University today. During this time much of the fruit-breeding program was moved to other research stations in Louisiana. In the early 1990s a new recreational facility was built on the site where the All-American Rose trials and other horticultural research were conducted. The rose trials and other research were moved to The Burden Research Plantation on Essen Lane. During this transition period, The Hill Farm became more of a teaching facility and less of a research facility because of the lack of space to conduct research and the close distance of the farm from campus. The Department of Horticulture and the Horticulture Club developed teaching facilities. Then in the early 1990s all but a small portion of The Hill Farm (about 5 acres) was given to the main campus for extending facilities of the new recreational facilities.
Due to the limited amount of space, these 5 acres were used to develop a teaching facility for the Department of Horticulture, now named The Horticulture Hill Farm Teaching Facility. This facility has a new building with a large classroom, a wet lab, and a mixing room. A small orchard was planted for teaching fruit production, a vegetable garden is maintained for teaching vegetable production, a can yard was constructed for teaching nursery crops, along with a large shade house, and two new greenhouses were built for teaching greenhouse crop production. A small area of the vegetable garden is used by the Emeritus Faculty to grow a demonstration of garden for the students.
The Horticulture Hill Farm Teaching Facility is a
very important part of our educational program that provides students with
hands-on training as well as experience conducting small research projects.
The Department of Horticulture is proud of the new facility we have built
for providing students with a great education.