In 1918, the MAFES South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station moved from McNeill to Poplarville on 95 acres donated by the county. In 2006, the USDA opened the Thad Cochran Southern Horticulture Laboratory in Poplarville to conduct research on small fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants. The 15,000 square foot building houses USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists and Mississippi State University scientists.
The station conducts three trials: ornamental seed trials, ornamental vegetative trials, and herbaceous perennial trials. These trials are conducted for the All-America Selections, plus trials are conducted for commercial breeding companies, plant introduction companies, and nurseries. Altogether, nearly 200 plants are evaluated through the trails.