Published: August 21, 2012
FLORENCE — Clemson University has established a program that will foster development of the Pee Dee region’s agricultural economy and provide lasting statewide benefits.
The Advanced Plant Technology program will provide a bridge to 21st century agriculture using traditional plant breeding and molecular genetics to develop new crops and crop-based products.
The program will 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, George Askew, Clemson University associate vice president for Public Service and Agriculture, said Tuesday at Clemson’s Pee Dee Research and Education Center Farm Field Day.
The project capitalizes on the Pee Dee region’s strong agricultural economy, Clemson’s long-standing 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.
The annual field day featured field tours covering cotton, peanut and corn management; tobacco, peanuts and soybeans; and bioenterprise and wildlife. There also were presentations on grain sorghum as an alternative feed grain and flax and opportunities for the Pee Dee region.
Clemson’s Pee Dee center has served the agricultural industry for 100 years.
Bruce Fortnum, the center’s director, said that since it was established in 1911, the center has grown from a sleepy agricultural experiment station into a modern world-renowned research facility.
The center has become the recognized name for certain fields of research, particularly in tobacco, cotton and turfgrass, and regularly welcomes visiting scientists from around the world. More recently, biofuels has become an important research area.
“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.