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Manuel C. Palada and Stafford M.A. Crossm

The Caribbean region is one major source of most herbs and spices consumed in the U.S. Although the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) is part of the Caribbean, local production of herbs and spices does not contribute significantly to exports into the U.S. market. Nevertheless, culinary herbs area” important horticultural crop in the USVI and their sale provides income for many small-scale growers. Little research has been done to improve field production in the USVI. Inefficient cultural practices used by growers result in low yields. Lack of information on fertilizer rates, irrigation and pest control methods is a major constraint to high yields. In 1988, the Agricultural Experiment Station initiated a project to improve field production of herbs and spices in the USVI. Use of drip irrigation, mulching and fertilizers has improved yields of basil (Ocimum basilicum) and thyme (Thymus vulgaris). This paper will discuss crop management studies to improve culinary herb production in the USVI. Increasing production may help reduce U.S. imports of these specialty crops from other Caribbean island nations.