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Clemson peach tree scientist honored by National Peach Council

The National Peach Council recently presented Clemson University professor Gregory L. Reighard with the council’s 2013 Achievement Award for his dedicated and distinguished service to the U.S. peach industry.

Reighard, professor of environmental horticulture in Clemson’s School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences (SAFES), is an internationally known peach tree scientist who has performed groundbreaking research resulting in increased peach production in South Carolina and across the Southeast.

Among his research achievements, Reighard worked with Clemson colleagues and USDA scientists to develop a more disease-resistant peach rootstock called Guardian. Guardian rootstock is now the most widely planted rootstock in South Carolina and has vastly improved annual peach tree survival rates and productivity.

Prior to Guardian’s development, approximately 100,000 peach trees per year succumbed to disease across the Southeast.

“The National Peach Council is proud to recognize Greg’s sustained commitment to improving the domestic peach industry by presenting him with this award. For years Greg has worked tirelessly to ensure that peach growers are successful and profitable,” said Kay Rentzel, director of the National Peach Council.

Reighard’s work has attracted millions of dollars in external funding and has helped make Clemson a worldwide leader in peach tree research.

Reighard has been instrumental in imparting the latest research-based knowledge to South Carolina peach growers through sustained outreach.

He has authored or co-authored more that 150 peer-reviewed articles and conference proceedings, more than 100 technical articles, 215 published abstracts and six book chapters. He also has made more than 300 presentations at U.S. and international professional conferences.

“Greg’s dedication to extending the results of Clemson’s scientific inquiry to South Carolina peach growers is truly remarkable," said George Askew, associate vice president for Clemson University Public Service Activities. "His work is a key reason why Clemson has been able to help South Carolina become a leading peach-producing state.”

Reighard began his career at Clemson in 1985 with a research and Extension appointment focused on tree fruit crops. He was stationed at the Sandhill Research and Education Center in Columbia for nine years before moving to Clemson’s main campus in 1994.

In addition to his research and extension work, Reighard has served as major adviser for many graduate students and mentored postdoctoral and visiting scholars. In 2008, he received the Godley-Snell Award for Excellence in Agricultural Research, the largest annual agricultural research award given by Clemson University.

The National Peach Council is a voluntary organization comprising growers, packers, shippers, processors and others affiliated with the U.S. freestone peach industry. The council was formed in 1958 to unite the industry and provide a voice at the national level for issues facing peach production.

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