Clemson University Back in Plant Breeding at Pee Dee REC

Clemson University wants back in the game; the plant breeding and genetics game that is, and George Askew, Associate VP for Public Service in Agriculture at Clemson University explains:

“We still have some plant breeding going on, but we had a very large program years ago. But due to some retirements and other things we haven’t replaced as many plant breeders as we need to. But our focus now is to get back into that here, to compliment something that are happening on the campus.”

And the South Carolina General Assembly has generously allotted $4 million to upgrade the Pee Dee Research & Education Center near Florence, says Askew:

“The legislature put up $4million dollars in appropriated money to help us upgrade the labs here. We are also looking for some private contributions to go with that. We will be hiring some plant breeders this fall and then some molecular geneticists to complement the field work of the plant breeders.”

And the work will be underway this fall. Askew outlines some of the crops that will be focused on:

“We are working with sorghum now because of its potential for multiple out puts. We have done a lot of work on improving varieties. We are looking at the whole energy side of things which is something we have not traditionally done plant breeding in. On the soybean side we are looking at yields, disease resistance etc. We also do fiber cotton quality.”

Askew explains that the goal of bringing plant breeding and genetics back to Clemson is to increase producers’ profitability:

“The bottom line is to make their crops more valuable, by having a better volume, better quality or different characteristics to make it more salable.”

Associate VP for Public Service in Agriculture at Clemson University, George Askew. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.