The work will go a long way toward giving breeders like Gasic the tools to adapt fruit trees to climate change.
Second to top-producer California, South Carolina peach growers harvest about 90,000 tons per year valued at $60 million. Each year Clemson plant scientists evaluate more than 350 peach varieties to provide information needed by South Carolina growers.
Bielenberg and his colleagues have planted a special stand of 400 peach trees that contain genetic material between the extremes of chilling requirements. The seeds were given to Bielenberg by their developer, USDA Agriculture Research Service plant breeder W.R. Okie. They provide an opportunity to discover the mechanisms that cause variations in chilling requirements and may lead to discovering how to keep producing South Carolina peaches in spite of warming temperatures.
Understanding how the process works could affect other perennial fruit and nut crops, such as apples and pears, which are not related but require chilling hours.
|Contact: Douglas Bielenberg|