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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: PECAN GENETICS AND IMPROVEMENT

Location: Crop Germplasm Research

Title: Pecan

Authors
item Thompson, Tommy
item Conner, Patrick -

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: November 25, 2010
Publication Date: January 1, 2012
Citation: Thompson, T.E., Conner, P.J. 2012. Pecan. In: Badenes, M.L., Byrne, D.H., editors. Handbook of Plant Breeding, 1, Volume 8, Fruit Breeding, Part 4. New York, NY: Springer Publishing. p. 771-801.

Interpretive Summary: Pecan is an economically important crop grown in the U.S. and many other parts of the world. It is the most valuable native North American nut crop. Pecans are harvested from "native" trees throughout the natural range of the pecan. The culture of "improved" trees has extended considerably beyond the native range; from Ontario, Canada, south to Oaxaca, Mexico, and from the Atlantic coast of Virginia and the Carolinas west to California. In addition, the pecan is grown commercially to a minor extent in Israel, South Africa, Australia, Egypt, Peru, Argentina, and Brazil. There are two breeding programs in the world. The main program is conducted by ARS-USDA, headquartered at College Station, Texas. A much smaller program is at Tifton, Georgia. Improvement of this crop through breeding is a major priority of pecan research, and the future of the entire world industry is dependent on the success of this program. This chapter is a major summary of how the pecan tree is improved through breeding, so that it yields more good pecans, and so the trees are more resistant to diseases and insects. It explains how new varieties are produced and how they are introduced into the pecan industry so that growers can benefit from their use.

Technical Abstract: The pecan, Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch, is the most economically important member of the Carya Genus, and is the most valuable native North American nut crop. Pecans are harvested from "native" trees throughout the natural range of the species. The culture of "improved" trees has extended considerably beyond the native range; from Ontario, Canada, south to Oaxaca, Mexico, and from the Atlantic coast of Virginia and the Carolinas west to California. In addition, the pecan is grown commercially to a minor extent in Israel, South Africa, Australia, Egypt, Peru, Argentina, and Brazil. There are two breeding programs in the world. The main program is conducted by ARS-USDA, headquartered at College Station, Texas. A much smaller program is at Tifton, Georgia, and is lead by Dr. Patrick Conner. Improvement of this crop through genetics and breeding is a major priority of pecan research, and the future of the entire world industry is dependent on the success of this program. This chapter is a major treatise on all aspects of pecan breeding. Background, as far as pecan genetics and physiology is reviewed, and this is integrated into the explanation of what is currently being practiced in these programs.

Last Modified: 9/21/2014
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