Georgia pecan breeder works on scab-resistant cultivar

01/06/2014 08:15:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Georgia pecansCourtesy University of GeorgiaUniversity of Georgia breeder Patrick Conner is working to develop new pecan cultivars with improved agronomic traits.University of Georgia breeders are trying to develop a pecan variety resistant to the fungal disease, scab.

But the challenge won't be easy, according to a news release.

“It’s extremely difficult because scab is native to this region, and it’s co-evolved with pecans," breeder Patrick Conner said in the release.

Scab affects two of the most widely varieties—Desirable and Stuart. The fungal disease thrives in the humid, warm conditions found throughout the Southeast.

But the disease is not uniform across the varieties.

Scab strains that infect Stuart won't infect Desirable and vise versa.

This comes on top of the years it takes to develop a new variety of a tree crop.

Of the 12,000 seedlings Conner has planted and screened, he has kept 17 for yield trials.

He said he hopes to have a scab-resistant cultivar within the next five years.

But scab resistant is only one of the traits for which is is breeding in his program.

Conner also is seeking early maturity varieties for the industry.

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