Published Aug. 22, 2012
Clemson University has set up a new program at its Pee Dee Research & Education Center aimed at developing the region’s agricultural economy.
The Advanced Plant Technology program will focus on using traditional plant breeding and molecular genetics to develop new crops and crop-based products.
The program aims to increase the per-acre value of crops, develop new crops that can expand the market for South Carolina farm products and attract private agribusiness investment in research and development, said George Askew, Clemson University associate vice president for public service and agriculture.
The project builds upon the Pee Dee’s strong agricultural economy, Clemson’s collaboration with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Florence and the proximity to the city of Florence and the interstate system, Askew said.
“Collaboration with Clemson plant scientists on the main campus and agronomists at research centers in Blackville and Charleston provides a complete cycle of genetic improvement and agricultural practices for profitable production,” he said.
The project also has potential for collaboration with researchers at Francis Marion and other universities, he said.
Clemson’s Pee Dee research center has served the agricultural industry for 100 years.
Bruce Fortnum, the center’s director, said it has grown from a sleepy agricultural experiment station into a modern research facility.
The center has developed expertise in certain fields of research, particularly tobacco, cotton and turfgrass, and hosts visiting scientists from around the world. More recently, biofuels has become an important research area, Fortnum said.
“The center’s soils are diverse enough that Clemson scientists can cover just about all the crops of the Pee Dee, and their research benefits the economy of the entire state,” Fortnum said.