The peanut breeding program at the University of Florida’s (UF) North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) in Marianna, Florida, is helping growers in the Southeast by creating new peanut breeds. The breeding program uses applied genetics to create varieties with characteristics that will be beneficial to growers, says Barry Tillman, associate professor of the program.
Due to the many fungal and viral diseases that can affect crops in the southeastern region of the United States, Tillman says it is important to create peanut breeds that are resistant to many of these diseases.
Along with diseases, weather can be an issue for growers. This is why the NFREC is working with graduate-level students from UF’s main campus in Gainesville to create a drought-tolerant variety, according to Tillman. These students are also working with the NFREC to study how the use of molecular genetics can assist in the breeding process.
While creating disease-resistant breeds is key, Tillman says it is also necessary the breeds produce high yield and are of high quality. Without these traits, they will not do well in the peanut industry.
One part of the peanut breeding program that is important, Tillman says, is the Extension portion. This part of the program allows growers and researchers to work together. The data the researchers collect and organize is given to the growers, he says. This helps the growers know what will work best in their regions and helps them decide which varieties to plant.
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